Over the course of the history of Vancouver Whitecaps FC, a number of players who have played for the club at one point or another have also represented their country at the FIFA World Cup. As we approach the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, we will feature players of years’ past who made it to soccer’s pinnacle event.
Takashi Hirano spent the vast majority of his 18-year career playing in his home country of Japan. He played with seven different clubs before joining the ‘Caps, with his first eight seasons coming with Nagoya Grampus Eight. That was followed by time at Kyoto Purple Sanga, Júbilo Iwata, Vissell Kobe, Tokyo Verdy, Yokohama F. Marinos, and Omiya Ardija.
Hirano joined the ‘Caps in 2008 – his first time playing for a foreign club. He spent three seasons with the team in the USL, primarily as a left back, including a championship season in his first year as he was named to the USL First Division All-League Second Team.
He would retire as a ‘Caps player in 2011, just before the club joined MLS.
Beginning his career as a midfielder, Hirano made 15 appearances for Japan’s national team from 1997 until 2000, scoring four goals. The highlight came at the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France, when he played in two matches for his nation.
FUN FACT: Hirano won Japan’s Emperor’s Cup three times, claiming the title in 1995 and 1999 with Nagoya Grampus Eight, and in 2004 with Tokyo Verdy.