Soccer: Wanderers sign Japanese star Ono

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

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

Ono 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).

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 (1998, 2002, 2006).

"We have been in talks with Shinji and his management for a long time now, we have gone through the process and believe he will add a large amount to our squad across all areas," Wanderers coach Tony Popovic said.

"He is an experienced player at all levels and has played on some of the biggest stages in the world, his professionalism at the top level will be good for all to see."

Ono will arrive in Sydney on Monday to begin training ahead of the Wanderers' first A-League game against Central Coast Mariners at home on October 6.

-AAP

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