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Tsubasa Ozora is a young Japanese Elementary school student who is deeply in love with football and dreams of one day winning the World Cup for Japan. He lives together with his mother in Japan, while his father is a seafaring captain who travels around the world. At the beginning of the story, both of them move to the city of Nankatsu, a town well-known for their talented high school soccer teams, and where Tsubasa meets Ryo Ishizaki, a football-loving young student who often sneaks out from his mother's public bathrooms and chores in order to play football, Sanae (also known as Anego), a young enthusiastic girl who also loves football and helps cheer the Nankatsu High team on, and Genzo Wakabayashi, a highly talented young goalkeeper whom he soon challenges to a game in Nankatsu's annual Sports Festival. He also meets Roberto Hongo, one of the best Brazilian soccer players, who is a friend of Tsubasa's father, and who arrives in Japan and starts living with Tsubasa and his mother. Roberto becomes a mentor to Tsubasa and helps him to harness his football skills, convincing him to join Nankatsu Elementary and its fledgling high school football team, where Roberto becomes their coach and teaches them the tricks and trades of the game, teaching Tsubasa the Overhead Kick, and later in the series the Drive Shot thanks to a book he left for Tsubasa. Tsubasa also meets Taro Misaki, who has travelled around Japan due to his father's job and soon joins Nankatsu, and the two become the best of friends in both the pitch and real life, forming a partnership soon to be renowned as the "Golden Duo" or "dynamic duo" of Nankatsu. Soon Tsubasa and his Nankatsu team start taking on the best of high school soccer, meeting such talented players as Kojiro Hyuga, Ken Wakashimazu, Jun Misugi, Hikaru Matsuyama, and many others. His Nankatsu squad wins numerous youth national championships, and wins the U-16 World Championships for Japan, before leaving the country to play in Brazil.

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