Thursday saw a stunning announcement as former National Team member Shoji Jo decided to call it a career and announce his retirement effective at the conclusion of this year. Jo began his career in 1994 as a member of (then) JEF United Ichihara. Jo is probably best known for replacing an innefective Kazu Miura in the penultimate qualifying game for the 1998 national team squad. The fallout caused Miura to make a scene that is disputed to this day, the eventual ouster of Takeshi Okada, and Shoji Jo scoring the winning goal. Fate would see the two team up for Yokohama FC late in his career.
Jo had his best year in 1998, scoring 25 goals for a Marinos squad. In 2000, He accepted an offer to play for Real Vallodolid. An injury to his knee and ineffectiveness saw him rejoin F Marinos. After a disasterous 2002 term with Vissel Kobe, Former JEF player and German international Pierre Littbarski encouraged Jo to join up with a struggling Yokoham FC side. 149 games and 44 goals later, Yokohama FC finds itself on the cusp of promotion to J1 and the claim as rightful heir of the Flugels legacy. Shoji Jo finds himself beginning a new life.
* A side note: This is the third member of the 1998 national team squad to head off into the sunset this year. Nobuyuki Kojima announced his retirement before the season started and Hidetoshi Nakata announced after the end of the 2006 World Cup.