Japan pin-up Uchida returns home after Germany spell

Japan defender Atsuto Uchida is set to complete a return to Kashima Antlers after a seven-year spell in Germany, the J-League club said Wednesday.

The 29-year-old fan favourite, who has struggled with injury over the past two seasons, joined Bundesliga side Schalke in 2010 before moving to second-tier Union Berlin last summer.

Union Berlin’s sporting director Helmut Schulte suggested the club’s signing of the right-back had not worked out as planned.

“Atsuto has unfortunately not been able to show us his full potential,” he told the team’s website.

“Therefore we have allowed his wish to return to his home country and hope he can become a force once more.”

Uchida, who represented his country at the 2010 and 2014 World Cups and has won 74 caps, is set to join his new team-mates next week as he looks to win a place in the national side for the World Cup in Russia this year.

“Ever since joining Schalke I’ve always wanted to play for Kashima again,” Uchida said in a statement.

“I think I know what sort of behaviour and attitude to bring to a club with such a rich tradition,” added the player, who began his career at Kashima in 2006 and helped them win three successive J-League titles from 2007 to 2009.

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