World Cup: Japan Soccer Star Voices 'Pokemon' Film Character

Associated Press
Atsuto Uchida

Defender Atsuto Uchida, who plays in Germany, becomes the first sports star to provide the voice for a character in the "Pokemon" franchise.

TOKYO – Japan World Cup star Atsuto Uchida has voiced a character in the new Pokemon film, the first athlete to take on such a role in the popular franchise.

Pokemon the Movie: Diancie and the Cocoon of Destruction, directed by Kunihiko Yuyama, will be released by Toho in Japan on July 19, and is the 17th installment in the series. The film's producers are hoping that Uchida's participation and the hype around the World Cup will provide some extra buzz around its release.

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Right-back Uchida, one of Japan's brighter spots in the dull 0-0 draw with Greece on Friday, has provided the voice for a character known as Usshi, a hotel porter who bears more than a passing resemblance to the 26-year-old player. Usshi is the nickname given to Uchida by teammates at his club, Schalke 04 in the German Bundesliga.

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Uchida, who has been linked to a big-money summer move to English Premier League side Arsenal, declared himself a fan of the multibillion-dollar anime and card-battle franchise, saying his childhood consisted of playing soccer outside and Pokemon inside.

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Japan's next World Cup game is against Colombia at 5 a.m. (Tokyo time) on Wednesday, which it must win against the fifth-ranked South Americans to have any chance of progressing to the knockout stage.

Twitter: @GavinJBlair