Naoki Matsuda was educated at Maebashi Ikuei High School. In 1995 he joined the professional squad of Yokohama F. Marinos and helped them win the Japanese League championship in 1995, 2003 and 2004 as well as the Japanese Cup in 2001. In 2000 and 2002 he was elected to the Top Eleven of the Japanese League. Internationally, he played for Japan’s U-17 World Championship team in 1993 and at the 1995 U-20 World Championships. He also played in the 2000 Asian Championships which was won by his team, then played the FIFA Confederations Cup in 2001 (Japan lost the final against France by 0-1) and the FIFA World Cup in 2002 (Japan lost the eighth final against Turkey by 0-1), being considered one of the top players in Japan. In 2004 he played his last major tournament at the Asian Championships. He also was a member of the Japanese squad at the Olympics in 1996 and 2000. In 2011, shortly prior to his death, he signed a contract with Matsumoto Yamaga FC. On 2 August 2011, he collapsed during a training session due to a cardiac arrest, and passed away two days later.