18 September 1967 – The Man With The Caps For Japan

On 18 September 1967, defender Masami Ihara was born in the Japanese town of Minkuchi. We went on to make a then-record 122 appearances for the men's national team between 1988 and 1999.

Ihara received his first cap at the age of 21 while playing for the University of Tsukuba and made five national team appearances in that first year. Upon graduation, he joined the Nissan Motors team (which later became known as Yokohama Marinos) and remained there until 1999.

In between, he made another 117 national team appearances, including their title-winning run in the 1992 Asian Cup and, in 1998, their first World Cup. His record of 122 remains a record for the men's team, but is second to Homare Sawa, who was capped 186 times for the women's team.

At the club level, Ihara won the J-League with Marinos in 1995, a season in which he was also named the Asian Footballer of the Year.

After one season with Júbilo Iwata (2000) and two with Urawa Red Diamonds (2001-02), Ihara retired and moved into coaching.

His 122 caps remained a team record until October 2012, when he was passed by Yasuhito Endō. Ihara currently sits in second place on the appearances table after Endō's 152 caps. 

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