Gōtoku Sakai (酒井 高徳 Sakai Gōtoku, born 14 March 1991) is an American-born Japanese footballer who currently plays for Hamburger SV and is a player for the Japanese national team, mainly as a right back.
|Date of birth||14 March 1991|
|Place of birth||New York City, United States|
|Height||1.76 m (5 ft 9 in)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 17 November 2018|
Sakai was born in New York to a German mother and a Japanese father. The family moved to Japan when he was two years old. He grew up in Sanjō, Niigata prefecture. Sakai started playing football at Sanjō junior soccer club, together with his brother Noriyoshi. At age 15, he joined Albirex Niigata youth academy and entered Kaishi Gakuen High School. His team played at the Prince Takamado Cup, All Japan Club Youth Soccer tournament and J. League Youth tournament.
Years later in his final year at school, he was chosen as one of the designated players for development by J. League Division 1 and JFA. With this status, he was able to register as a J. League club player while he was still eligible to play for his school. He made his Albirex first-team debut, at the age of 17, on 15 November 2008 in the Emperor's Cup match against FC Tokyo. He officially signed with Albirex Niigata in the following season. After becoming professional, he was assigned the number 24 shirt. He made his professional football debut in the opening J1 League match of the 2009 season also against FC Tokyo.
On 11 February 2012, Sakai made his Bundesliga debut for VfB Stuttgart in a 5–0 home victory against Hertha BSC. He made 14 starts and recorded five assists in his first Bundesliga season. Sakai scored his first goal for Stuttgart on 22 November 2012 in a 5–1 away victory against FC Steaua București in the 2012–13 UEFA Europa League group stage.
Sakai played for Japan U-20 at the 2010 AFC U-19 Championship in China. In 2011, he was named in Japan's final 23-man squad to compete at the 2011 AFC Asian Cup in Qatar but had to withdraw due to an injury.
On 21 September 2011 Gōtoku Sakai was in the starting line-up of the Japan under-22 team in the first group match of his team in the 2012 Summer Olympics Asian Qualifiers against Malaysia. In the following group match against Bahrain he came off the bench. He participated with the Japan under-23 team in the 2012 Toulon Tournament. On 2 July 2012 Sakai was called up for the 2012 Summer Olympics Football tournament in London.
Sakai underlined his outstanding potential in late 2012 when he was selected by influential football website IBWM in their list of the 100 most exciting players in world football for 2013.
- As of 23 June 2018
|Albirex Niigata||2008||J1 League||0||0||1||0||0||0||—||1||0|
2Includes J. League Cup.
3Includes UEFA Europa League.
- As of 2 July 2018
- "National Team Squad". jfa.or.jp. Japan Football Association. Retrieved 15 January 2014.
- "A new man for VfB". vfb.de. VfB Stuttgart. 23 December 2011. Archived from the original on 26 January 2016. Retrieved 23 December 2011.
- "Go for 'Go'!". vfb.de. VfB Stuttgart. 2 January 2012. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
- "Gotoku Sakai" (in German). fussballdaten.de. Retrieved 22 May 2013.
- "Stuttgart stun Steaua to remain in the hunt". uefa.com. UEFA. 22 November 2012. Retrieved 22 November 2012.
- "Röcker and Sakai extend deals". vfb.de. VfB Stuttgart. 10 January 2013. Archived from the original on 26 January 2016. Retrieved 10 January 2013.
- "酒井 高徳選手 VfBシュツットガルト（ドイツ・ブンデスリーガ）へ完全移籍のお知らせ" [Permanent move to VfB Stuttgart]. albirex.co.jp (in Japanese). Albirex Niigata. 10 January 2013. Retrieved 10 January 2013.
- "Makino follows Sakai out of squad". The Japan Times. 10 January 2011. Retrieved 23 December 2011.
- "MATCH SUMMARY: Japan – Malaysia". the-afc.com. Asian Football Confederation. 21 September 2011. Archived from the original on 16 December 2012. Retrieved 2 July 2012.
- "MATCH SUMMARY: Bahrain – Japan". the-afc.com. Asian Football Confederation. 22 November 2011. Archived from the original on 16 December 2012. Retrieved 2 July 2012.
- "Japan U-23 squad for Toulon International named". Japan Football Association. 18 May 2012. Retrieved 2 July 2012.
- "Going for gold". vfb.de. VfB Stuttgart. 2 July 2012. Retrieved 2 July 2012.
- "The IBWM 100 for 2013". inbedwithmaradona.com. 15 December 2012. Retrieved 15 December 2012.
- "World Cup 2018: All the confirmed squads for this summer's finals in Russia".
- Japan National Football Team Database‹See Tfd›(in Japanese)