Yokohama F Marinos defender Yuji Nakazawa, who played in two World Cups for Japan, has decided to retire, the J-league first division side announced Tuesday.

The 40-year-old center back played for Japan at the 2006 World Cup in Germany and 2010 edition in South Africa, but only appeared in 22 games in the top division last season due to pain in his left knee.

The knee pain forced him to sit out a game last August, ending his string of 178 straight full games and 199 consecutive appearances, both league records for an outfield player.

Despite undergoing surgery and treatment in September, the knee did not respond as well as expected.

"While I was putting my thoughts in order after the season, I felt that it was time to take off this club's uniform," Nakazawa said in a statement through the team.

"I think I will leave the pitch without even a millimeter of regret."

Nakazawa, who spent time in Brazil after graduating from high school, joined Verdy Kawasaki (now Tokyo Verdy) in 1999 and moved to Marinos in 2002.

He contributed to Yokohama's league championships in 2003 and 2004, the year he became the first defender to be named the J-League's MVP. His 593 J-League games are third-most all-time.

A long-time Samurai Blue stalwart, Nakazawa scored 17 goals and is tied for sixth among Japan internationals with 110 caps.