29 Sep 2012

Wanderers sign Japanese star for A-League

9:37 am on 29 September 2012

The Japanese World Cup star Shinji Ono has become Western Sydney Wanderers inaugural marquee man, signing a two-year-deal with the A-League club.

The 33-year-old midfielder was granted an official release from J-League side Shimizu S-Pulse on to pen the deal worth a reported $1.6 million.

In a celebrated 17-year career forged in both Japan and Europe, the 2002 Asian footballer of the year won a J-League and Asian Champions League title with Urawa Red Diamonds as well as the 2002 UEFA Cup with Feyenoord, where he played alongside Sydney FC marquee player, Brett Emerton.

Ono, an attacking midfielder, played 56 times for Japan and appeared in three FIFA World Cups.

He becomes the third major international recruit for the A-League in an astonishing past fortnight that includes the signings of Alessandro Del Piero (Sydney FC) and Emile Heskey (Newcastle Jets).

The former England striker Heskey says he's looking forward to linking up with Michael Bridges in his first A-League game for the Newcastle Jets.

The ex-Liverpool star, who has signed a $1 million, one-year deal with the Jets, came up against ex-Leeds forward Bridges regularly when both were playing in the English Premier League.

Heskey says he can't wait to be paired up in the forward pack with his friend and former under-18 England teammate Bridges.