Nobuyuki Kojima

Born: 17-Jan-1966
Height/Weight: 187/85
Birthplace: Gunma
Previous Teams:  Bellmare Hiratsuka, Avispa Fukuoka, Thespa Kusatsu
Appearances (J1/J2):239/23  
First Appearance:23-Mar-1994 Bellmare Hiratsuka -vs- JEF United (at Ichihara Seaside Stadium)

 Even in the early years of the J.League, Nobuyuki Kojima was always viewed as the "elder statesman" among Japanese goalkeepers, whether as the unshakable starter for Bellmare Hiratsuka or the perennial backup keeper for the national team. He must have greyed early, because even in the early years his graying head of hair was his trademark.

Kojima had the misfortune to play for relatively weak teams, over the bulk of his career, and considering how many shots on goal that his teammates conceded, he almost surely made more saves than any other keeper in history. His air of calm composure and determination even after conceding crucial goals just added to his aura as the "wise old man" of the league.

The "prime" of Kojima's career came while he was at Bellmare Hiratsuka, during an era when his teammates included Hidetoshi Nakata, Akira Narahashi, Wagner Lopes and Kazuaki Tasaka. During this period he was also the first-choice goalkeeper for the Japan national team, and though Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi pushed him out of the starting lineup before the 1998 World Cup, Kojima did have the opportunity to travel to France and take part in the highest level of football anywhere on the planet.

However, Bellmare's financial collapse in the lat 1990s forced Kojima to move to Avispa Fukuoka, where he patiently and poignantly guarded the net for one of the weakest defences the J.League has ever seen. Even as age began to catch up with him, Kojima found ways to contribute to a team, even when he wasn't in the lineup. After "retiring" from professional football in 2001, he continued to be a source of inspiration and guidance to younger players as he helped Thespa Kusatsu build a football club, and bid for promotion to the J.League. When Thespa did achieve their goal, and became the first club promoted to the J.League since 2000, Kojima got one last chance to play in "the big show". But after four years as the "part-time" goalkeeper and full time role model at thespa, Kojima finally called an end to his goalkeeping career. Since then he has been a frequent commentator on TV, as well as coaching at the youth level.


Photo Year Team Uniform # Caps  Goals
- 1994 Bellmare Hiratsuka 41 -
- 1995 Bellmare Hiratsuka 47 -
- 1996 Bellmare Hiratsuka   29 -
- 1997 Bellmare Hiratsuka 21 -
- 1998 Bellmare Hiratsuka 34 -
- 1999 Avispa Fukuoka 29 -
2000 Avispa Fukuoka 30 -
2001 Avispa Fukuoka   13 -
- 2002 Thespa Kusatsu (JFL) - - -
- 2003 Thespa Kusatsu (JFL) - - -
- 2004 Thespa Kusatsu (JFL) - - -
2005 Thespa Kusatsu - 23 -
- J.League TOTAL 262 -