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Kickers Sign Japanese Super "Hiro"

March 16, 2011 - USL PRO (USL PRO) Richmond Kickers

RICHMOND, VA - (Wednesday, March 16, 2011) - The Richmond Kickers are pleased to announce the signing of Japanese international Nozomi Hiroyama for the 2011 season, pending USSF and Visa approval.

"We are delighted Hiro has agreed to join the Kickers as he has exceptional quality and an extensive international experience," comments Leigh Cowlishaw, Richmond Kickers Head Coach and Director of Soccer. "We were fortunate that Hiro was able to train with the team prior to signing and we expect he will provide an added dimension to our attack."

"Sadly, Hiro joins the Kickers at a traumatic time in Japanese history," continues Cowlishaw. "We are thankful that he and his family were unharmed and our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Japan."

Hiroyama joins the Kickers after an extensive playing career that spans four continents over the past 15 years. Entering the J. League in 1996, at the age of 19, the 5'7" native of Chiba, Japan made 146 appearances with JEF United Ichihara. In 2001, Hiroyama was transferred to Paraguayan side Cerro Porteño, where he became the first Japanese player ever to score a goal in a Copa Libertadores match.

The following season, he made 10 appearances with Sporting Braga in Portugal before signing with Montpelier HSC of France's Ligue 1. He continued to set milestones, becoming the first Japanese player to appear in France's top division, having achieved the same distinction in Portugal.

After a one-year stint in France, Hiroyama returned to the J. League where he made 79 appearances with Tokyo Verdy 1969 and 15 appearances with Cerezo Osaka over five seasons. Most recently, the Japanese international played in 73 games with J. League Division 2 side Thespa Kusatsu.

Representing his country as a member of the U18, U19 and U20 National Teams, Hiroyama earned a pair of caps with the full Japanese National team in 2001 and 2003.

Reserve your 2011 Season Passes and join the Richmond Kickers when they open the USL PRO campaign, hosting Orlando City on Saturday, April 2 at 5:00 p.m. at Richmond City Stadium. Taking the field for their 19th season, the Kickers will compete alongside American Division rivals Charlotte Eagles, Charleston Battery, Orlando City and Wilmington Hammerheads and will also face National and International opponents Dayton Dutch Lions, Harrisburg City Islanders, FC New York, Pittsburgh Riverhounds, Rochester Rhinos, Antigua Barracuda FC, Los Angeles Blues, Puerto Rico United and Sevilla FC Puerto Rico during the 24-game season. Visit RichmondKickers.com for schedules and ticket information.

A full-service soccer club with over 8,000 players competing in youth, adult, amateur and professional programs, the Richmond Kickers pyramid structure serves as a model to soccer clubs across the country. For more information, visit RichmondKIckers.com.

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