Japanese soccer star Naoki Matsuda has died, just two days after suffering a suspected heart attack on the training pitch.

Matsuda, who was rushed to hospital on Tuesday, was only 34.
He fell into a coma and never regained consciousness after collapsing during a training session with his team, Matsumoto Yamaga.

Fans and teammates flocked to the hospital in Matsumoto, a town about 110 miles northwest of Tokyo, to pay tribute to the fallen star.

The defender represented Japan in the 2002 World Cup and played for his country a total of forty times. He also won two Japan Football League titles during 16-year tenure with the Yokohama Marinos. He had moved to the lower-league Matsumoto club earlier this year.

The former manager of the Japan club Philippe Troussier told Reuters: "It's terrible to see someone die at such a young age. It's a big shock. He was a great guy and I felt a close bond to him. My thoughts go to his family."

Former teammate Shunsuke Nakamura told reporters outside the Matsumoto hospital: "He was dynamic in every aspect and he was a kind of big brother for everyone in a positive sense. A smile was on his face.”

Hiromi Hara of the Japan Football Association added: "I have managed or coached teams playing against him many times and know what a big presence he had."

Matsuda’s death comes only about two weeks after the Japanese women’s soccer team won the World Cup for the first time.