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Former Japanese international and MLS soccer player Masato Kudo dies aged 32

<i>Chris Hyde/Getty Images</i><br/>Masato Kudo played for Brisbane Roar during the 2020-21 season.
Getty Images
Chris Hyde/Getty Images
Masato Kudo played for Brisbane Roar during the 2020-21 season.

By Issy Ronald, CNN

Japanese football club Tegevajaro Miyazaki has announced the death of striker Masato Kudo at age 32, the Japan Times reports.

“From his achievements in the J1 to being selected for the Samurai Blue, Kudo was an incredibly accomplished player. But in spite of that he was never arrogant and cherished his teammates, the club and our supporters. He personified our club slogan, ‘shinshi’ (sincere). For that sort of player to leave us so soon is sad and unfortunate, ” the club’s president, Keita Nimura ​said.

Kudo, a former Japanese International and MLS soccer player, was diagnosed with hydrocephalus — a buildup of fluid in the ventricles of the brain — and hospitalized on October 3 after falling ill the previous day, Reuters reported.

The Japanese Professional Football League confirmed his passing on Twitter:

“Along with the entire Japanese football community, we mourn the passing of Masato Kudo and wish to express our most heartfelt condolences to his family and friends,” the statement read.

While playing for Kashiwa Reysol at the beginning of his career, Kudo became the club’s leading scorer in the top division of Japanese football and won Japan’s three major club titles, local media reported.

He played four matches for Japan’s national team in 2013, scoring two goals, before leaving the country to join the Vancouver Whitecaps FC for the 2016 MLS season.

“Kudo was loved by all who had the pleasure of knowing him,” Whitecaps FC said in a statement. “He was kind, gracious, and his smile would light up the room.”

Tributes also flooded in from Australia, where Kudo played for Brisbane Roar during the 2020-21 Isuzu UTE A-League season, making 14 appearances for the club.

“He had such a wonderful personality and always turned up to training every morning with a beaming smile on his face,” the A-League men’s head coach, Warren Moon, said.

“He will be greatly missed, and our hearts go out to his wife and young daughter at this sad time.”

Kudo’s former teammates at Brisbane Roar honored him during their match on Saturday against the Western Sydney Wanderers by holding up a jersey with his name and number on the back.

“Football Australia is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Japanese forward Masato Kudo,” Football Australia, the sport’s governing body in Australia, also tweeted.

“Our sincere condolences go out to his friends, family and the wider football community in Japan during this difficult time.”

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