Takahiro Shimotaira began his career with Kashiwa Reysol, and his contributions were invaluable to helping the team win promotion to the J1 in 1995. He remained a central figure in the Reysol lineup until 2000, when a bit of restructuring at the team prompted by a new coach left him out in the cold. The following year he accepted a transfer to FC Tokyo, but in the two years he spend at the capitol city club, he failed to claim a central spot and his career started to move onto a downhill course.
In 2003, another coaching change provided an opportunity for Shimotaira to return to the club that raised him, and though he was beginning to show his age, the return to familiar surroundings allowed him to breifly revive his career. He played 20 matches in 2003, but by 2004 he was clearly nearing the end of his career, and began to focus his efforts on coaching the many youngsters at Kashiwa. Shimotaira retired at the end of the 2004 season, but remains close to his old club and is studying to earn a coaching license so he can join the staff of Reysol's youth programme.
As one of the players who created the mold for hard-tackling, fiercely combative midfielders, Shimotaira was feared and respected throughout his career, and inspired many imitators such as teammate Tomokazu Myojin and another former NT member, Kazuyuki Toda. Though Shimotaira himself received only a few calls to the national team, his contributions over 234 league matches will long be remembered by Reysol fans and J.League historians.