File photo shows Japan's national soccer team player Naoki Matsuda
File photo shows Japan's national soccer team player Naoki Matsuda Reuters

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.