Four years on, the now 36-year-old is back with the Japan squad as they attempt to defend their title in Canada. It is the sixth time Sawa has taken part in a World Cup – a record for both the men’s and women’s game, albeit one she shares with Brazil’s Formiga.

As the Round of 16 duel against debutants the Netherlands approaches, the Japanese legend sat down with to discuss her new role in the team, the tournament so far and her future.

Article:Madoda Ntuli