He has been called "the monster", "the genius" since his boyhood years.
At the age of 13, he was selected as a member of Japan's Under-16 national soccer team. In 1994, he won the 6th Under-16 Asia Youth Championship held in Qatar.
In 1995, he entered Shimizu Commercial High School, a school with a distinguished record in high school soccer tournaments.
In 1996, he competed in the Under-17 World Championship held in Ecuador. At the same year, he won the National Championship as a representative from Shizuoka prefecture.
In 1997, he won All-Japan Youth Championship and the National Championship for two straight years, and also finished second in Inter-High-School Tournament. On December 15th, he entered Urawa Reds as a professional soccer player.
In 1998, in his first year as a professional player, he won the J-League Rookie of the Year Award and also was chosen in the All J-League 1st Team. In the same year, he won the MVP Award of the Tournament although the team finished second in the Asia Youth Championship.
He also made his first debut in the national team in a friendly match against South Korea. Later in the year, he played for 15 minutes as a youngest player in the history to play at the World Cup in the game against Jamaica at the France World Cup.
In 1999, he led his team to the second place in the World Youth Championship in Nigeria as a captain. He was also chosen as a member of the 1st Team of the Tournament.
The second half period of the year was challenging. In June, he suffered his first major injury after the preliminary round in Asia area for the Sydney Olympic. His team Urawa Reds was demoted to J2 League later in the year.
With a spirit of never giving up, he came back as a member of the national team in the game against Mexico in February 2000. In the same year, he contributed to winning the Asia Cup and made a full revival. He also led Urawa Reds throughout the year as a young captain and contributed to returning to J1 League in a year.
In 2001, after the first stage of J-League was finished, he transferred to Feyenoord, the distinguished team in the Dutch League. Just before the transfer, in the Confederation Cup, he made one goal and one assist igniting the team to win the 2nd place of the tournament.
Shinji continued his evolvement in the Netherlands. On October 14th, 2001, he marked his first goal after the transfer in the match against FC Groningen. And in May 8th, 2002, he made one assist in UEFA Cup Final and contributed to the team winning the championship.
In June of the same year, he played in all games in FIFA World Cup, serving the team both in offence and defense and advanced to the final round tournament for the first time in nation's history.
After the World Cup, Zico took place of the head coach of Japan national team. Shinji made the first goal of Zico's team in the game against Jamaica and became the core player of a newly built team.
With A soft ball touch, good look of an open field, and his amazing through pass between the players, Shinji fascinates the fans in Europe, the birthplace of soccer, through his plays.