Hundreds of joyous Japanese football fans turned out at Narita Airport in Tokyo to greet their footballing heroes as they returned from the Russia 2018 World Cup having impressively reached the last 16 of the tournament.
Japan were knocked out only by an agonizing last-minute winner in a 3-2 loss to Belgium, having took a 2-0 lead in that game courtesy of an opener from Genki Haraguchi and the a wonder strike from Takashi Inui.
Only a Nacer Chadli goal in the 94th minute undid Japan’s hard work, but the attacking play and endless running from ‘Samurai Blue’ had won the respect of fans worldwide, not least the supporters back in their home country.
Those Japan fans attending the tournament also became a hit after staying behind in the stadium to clean up after themselves by helping stewards to clear away rubbish in Rostov Arena.
The Japan players also took time to stay behind and tidy up their bench and dressing room, despite their devastating loss. They also left a thank-you note in Russian on the table for the hosts of the event that they enjoyed for more than two weeks.
Prior to reaching the knockout stage, Japan had qualified second in Group H by virtue of a win over Colombia and a draw against Senegal against just one loss to Poland before being sent home by the Belgian Red Devils.