Atsuto Uchida (r.) was one of several Japanese players to join the Bundesliga after the 2010 World Cup
Atsuto Uchida (r.) was one of several Japanese players to join the Bundesliga after the 2010 World Cup

Uchida the right man for Schalke

On the books at FC Schalke 04 since the summer of 2010, Atsuto Uchida is one of the Bundesliga's most reliable - not to mention popular - full-backs.

International quality

Born on 27 March 1988 in the central Japanese town of Kannami, Uchida finished his high-school education before joining Kashima Antlers in 2006, going on to win three successive J-League titles between 2007 and 2010.

His solid defensive performances had been duly noted by Schalke and so it was that the 2010/11 season found him in the Ruhr district, playing in the Bundesliga. Uchida soon carved out a regular slot for himself with the Royal Blues on the right
of the defence.

The archetypal modern full-back, who enjoys breaking forward at every opportunity, he has become a firm favourite with Bundesliga fans all over the world, having been voted into their international Team of the Season in the 2012/13 and 2013/14 campaigns. He missed the early part of the 2014/15 season with injury, but timed his return perfectly to help Schalke beat local rivals Borussia Dortmund in the campaigns's first Revierderby on Matchday 6.

World Cup participant

After making his full international debut, aged 19, in a friendly against Chile in January 2008, Uchida then became Japan's youngest ever scorer in a FIFA World Cup qualifying match when he netted the only goal of the game in a 1-0 win against Bahrain in June of the same year.

An unused squad member at the 2010 FIFA World Cup finals in South Africa, he was an integral part of Japan's AFC Asian Cup-winning side just half a year later and, come the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, an undisputed first-team regular for the Samurai Blue. In October 2014 he committed to a new three-year deal at the Veltins Arena.