By Peter Weis@PeterVicey

Okazaki returns to Mainz to begin coaching career

The first step in Bundesliga veteran Shinji Okazaki's post-playing career will be a return to the German club he co-founded with club colleague Takashi Yamashita ten years ago. 

After ending his playing career with Belgian Pro League side Sint-Truidense V.V. this season, former VfB Stuttgart, FSV Mainz 05, and Leicester City professional Shinji Okazaki will be headed back to the capital of Rheinland-Pfalz. The now 38-year-old Okazaki will serve as the head coach of the club he co-founded with former Mainz colleague Takashi Yamashita.

Okazaki and Yamashita created FC Basara Mainz back in 2014 as a pipeline club meant to mix young Japanese talents with locals from the RheinMain region. The organization began its journey in the German 11th tier one decade ago. Since then, it's moved up to the Verbandsliga Südwest in the sixth German football tier. Okazaki's appointment was confirmed on Monday.

"I am very happy to be able to join this club as coach on its tenth anniversary," Okazaki noted in a statement, "Since I founded this club together with club representative Yamashita, many players, staff, fans and sponsors who support us have contributed to the club.

"I wanted to work in Europe as a coach because this club exists," the statement continued, "I will grow with this club, the players, the staff and everyone involved and do my best to move up to higher leagues. I look forward to all of your support!"

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