Nakata joins English side Bolton

English Premier League outfit Bolton Wanderers presented their latest acquisition to the media on Thursday.

updated: February 25, 2007 10:54 IST
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Bolton Wanderers boss Sam Allardyce walked onto the Reebok Stadium pitch on Thursday to present his latest signing to the media. The often crotchety coach had good reason to be cheerful. The new wearer of the number 16 shirt is none other than two-time Asian Footballer of the Year, Hidetoshi Nakata, by some distance the best player ever to come out of Japan. The 28 year-old creative midfielder has signed for a one-year loan spell from Fiorentina, having spent seven years in Italy's Serie A with five different clubs, winning the 'scudetto' as a Roma player in 2001. International campaign Nakata generated US$ 56-million worth of transfer business as he moved from Roma to Fiorentina, via Parma, Perugia and Bologna, but last season injury limited his appearances for the Florence club to just 20 matches. However, a full international campaign in the recent Confederations Cup convinced Allardyce of his fitness and the player himself is looking forward to Bolton's debut season in Europe, having finished sixth in the Premiership last term. "It's very nice to be playing in England, especially for Bolton. They have been doing very well the last couple of years and this year they also be playing in the UEFA Cup, which is very important for the club. Also for me as well, so I'm very happy to be here, to become a member of the Wanderers and I look forward to playing as soon as possible," said Hidetoshi Nakata. Tough league Nakata thinks that his extensive experience in Italy will stand him in good stead as he tries to adapt to a new country and a new style of football. "The Premier League is one of the best leagues in the world and a very tough league as well. But I think I am quite ready to play in England after seven years in Italy, which is very tough, like in England. So, now we just do it," said Nakata. A full pre-season programme with Fiorentina means that Nakata arrives in England in good shape, but the player himself feels that there will be more work to do. A move to relatively unfashionable Bolton Wanderers might not seem the ideal move for Japan's soccer superstar, but Nakata says it's not about the career, it's about the challenge. "The career is not important for me. I just want to enjoy my football and a challenge is always good for me. I have to always have new experiences which makes me big as a person and a player, so any experience is good for me," said Nakata. Nakata will be just 29 next season when the World Cup takes place in Germany. It would be his third appearance at the finals, but with the tournament still ten months away and Japan already qualified, Bolton's new acquisition is just concentrating on his club football. Quality position Allardyce himself hopes that some of Nakata's experience at international and European level will rub off on the rest of his squad - and carry them a long way in this season's UEFA Cup. "As always the first thing you're looking for in a player is quality. Quality in a position you want to fill, you want to get more experience and that he's got in abundance. I think his experience, not just with his country in Japan, but also with his European experience over the last seven years with various different Italian clubs. "Not only playing in that league - Serie A - but also playing in European football is something that we would like to see him put into our team and we, as always, are going to give him the opportunity to do that," said Sam Allardyce. Contribution on the pitch Judging by the size of the press core at the Reebok Stadium on Thursday, Nakata's arrival has immediately given Bolton Wanderers a profile they could hardly have imagined a few months ago. Replica shirt sales in Japan will no doubt soar and although the club accountants will be pleased, it's the contribution on the pitch that Allardyce is really looking for from Nakata. (AP)