Wanderers fans welcome Shinji Ono

JUST five days out from his club's first ever match, the A-League's newest boom recruit, Western Sydney Wanderers' marquee Shinji Ono, touched down at Sydney Airport this morning.

Ono arrived at just after 7am and was greeted by several Wanderers fans and a large media pack of both local and Japanese journalists, the latter of whom have been followed his every move since he was included in the Blue Samurai's 1998 World Cup squad at just 18 years of age.

Ono may not have the profile here of the other recent high-profile marquee arrivals, Sydney's Alessandro Del Piero and Newcastle's Emile Heskey, but he is worshipped as tensai – 'genius' in his native country.

Having turned 33 last week, Ono is younger than the other two marquee signings and having played in the J-League this season for Shimzu S-Pulse, is arguably in better match condition.

While his career might be reaching its final turn, Ono said he was fully committed to doing great things with the Wanderers.

“I want to give my everything, my energy, to the team,” he said. “It is a very exciting to play here.”

It's almost certain he will start in the Wanderers' first match, at home against the Central Coast Mariners in a NSW derby at Parramatta Stadium on Saturday night. Asked if he was ready to play in the match, Ono said he felt good to go.

“I think so but I need to speak with my boss,” he said.

Ono confirmed he didn't know much about the Australian league but that he expected he would learn quickly.

“I'm not sure about [information regarding] the A-League but maybe I will start to know more now,” he said.

Ono has played 56 times for Japan in his 14-year career, including at three World Cups, the 2004 Olympics and was part of the Japanese team that won the Asian Cup in 2000.

He was voted the Asian Footballer of the Year in 2002, the same year he won the UEFA Cup with Dutch club Feyenoord.

His most successful spells have come in two stints with Asia's biggest club, Urawa Red Diamonds, where he won J-League-Emperor's Cup double in 2006 and the Asian Champions League a year later.

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