LEICESTER CITY legend Shinji Okazaki has revealed he is quitting the club this summer after four years – because he longs to be a Fox in the box again.
The Japanese international will go down in Foxes folklore for scoring one of the most iconic goals in City’s history.
Okazaki’s sensational overhead kick against Newcastle United in March 2016 earned three crucial points to keep Leicester’s 5,000/1 title success from faltering.
However Jamie Vardy’s dominance as first-choice striker saw Okazaki used in a deeper role, linking midfield and attack for most of his time at the King Power.
Now, after two seasons where he has become a fringe player and impact sub, the 33-year-old has yearns to return to his natural role as an out and out striker.
The £7million bargain signing from Mainz told Japanese national newspaper Nikkei: “I have decided to leave Leicester because I felt strongly that I would like to challenge next season in a place where I can play as a striker.
“There have been few opportunities for playing this season and my role at Leicester is definitely not a striker. It feels like I am seen as the second row midfielder.
‘START FROM SCRATCH’
“I feel that I am not a midfielder when I see the high ability of a professional midfielder with their skill level.
“So I will make my decision on my next destination based on ‘can I play as a striker? It will be more interesting to play in a place where that is possible.
“I am 33 now and that’s how I feel. It’s time to start from scratch. I am aware that I am at an age called a veteran, but I don’t feel it.”
Okazaki looks destined to move to Italy or Spain where the pace of the game is slower than the Premier League as he bids to play for Japan in the 2022 world cup.
However he has fond memories of his title winning season and the sacrifice he made to help Leicester stun the football world with their 2016 title triumph.
“It was my first season at Leicester, just after my 30th birthday, when I was given the job of linking the defence and the attack and it resulted in the first title of my life.
“However, although there was some sense of accomplishment, the satisfaction was not as big as I thought.
“Even though I was a forward, I was actually playing like a midfielder. It was seen as my strength but I thought that was dangerous.
“Strikers are only judged on the goals they score and the reality is I didn’t score enough.”