You can now all explode with excitement as I have finally returned to writing duties on this website. However, I have a feeling you haven’t missed me too much because of the fantastic World Cup that is currently taking place (by the way, it’s coming home). Speaking of that World Cup, what a fantastic performance from Japan, they played brilliantly and didn’t deserve to go out to that Belgium side, my heart actually broke when they managed to score the winner in added time but the World Cup wasn’t all doom and gloom for Japan.
Japan’s success in the World Cup boosted their global reach and fanbase by a massive amount. From personal experience, I was telling everyone about how they play their football and they would go far in this tournament. Now all my mates are trying to get into Japanese football and it’s not just my mates, it’s also high-profile footballers too.
Spanish Invasion On Japan Begins
Just before the World Cup, Andres Iniesta, one of the greatest midfielders of all time, announced that he would finally leave Barcelona after being there his whole footballing career. I was quite upset when this news first broke, it would be like Frank Lampard leaving Chelsea, Xavi leaving Barcelona, it just wouldn’t seem right seeing them in another shirt. Then it hit me, he could end up in Japan, however, this thought was quickly shut down as it was all but confirmed he was off to China. It was basically common knowledge across the footballing world that Iniesta was off to play in China after striking a deal with the club that would see his Spanish vineyard stay in business whilst he was away.
Then the news broke that the Chinese club’s move for Iniesta had completely broken down because of some business rules with Chinese football, it seemed as though Iniesta couldn’t play for the side because he had shares or something in one of the companies that the owner of the club owns, that’s how I read the statement anyway. I was extremely happy when this came out as his move to Japan was highly unlikely but still possible.
Then every big sports news outlet was reporting the same thing a few days after the Chinese transfer breakdown. Andres Iniesta was to join Vissel Kobe in Japan. I was excited, to say the least, not only was one of my favourite players moving to a new club but it was to a league I closely follow and watch every week! However, that joy didn’t stop there as it hit me who he had joined and who his teammate was. He was joining Vissel Kobe, a team I have a soft spot for because of the one and only Lukas Podolski. Iniesta and Podolski will be playing football together for the first time in their careers. My nine-year-old self couldn’t contain himself any longer.
Iniesta was then officially confirmed as a Kobe player a week later, with his unveiling being a huge thing over in Japan. Japan are used to seeing one or two well-known players every so many years but to have Podolski and Iniesta in the league and playing for the same side was unheard of and extremely special for every fan of the J-League.
Kobe now have to be one of the favourites for the title. They were already competing near the top of the table already but with how Iniesta plays and how he perfectly fits into how Japanese teams play football, it’s almost certain that Podolski and Iniesta will be having fun against most of the teams in the J-League.
Spanish Reinforcements Arrive
Back in May, it was announced that another Spanish superstar, Fernando Torres, would be leaving his boyhood club Atletico Madrid, in the summer. This one wasn’t as big as a shock as Iniesta’s news but it was still a big deal because Torres, like Iniesta, could play at the highest level quite comfortably. This one was quite a mystery as well as there weren’t any front runners with the bookies. That was until late May when an article went up on the official J-League website that announced Torres joining Sagan Tosu.
This was huge news for the league, not only had they managed to persuade Iniesta to join the league but they had managed to get his Spanish teammate to come to Japan as well. However, everything was put into doubt when the article was taken down six minutes later and no news surrounding Torres was released.
Fast forward to yesterday and Torres tweeted out about the release of his new book and with this, he would announce his next club. Now speculation had grown he was off to Australia, specifically Sydney FC when his profile was uploaded to their website stating that he was a player. I was quite annoyed when Jake made this clear to me, I had been ready since May to see Torres in Japan but it seemed more likely that he was off to Australia.
That was until earlier today when Torres officially announced he had joined Sagan Tosu of Japan. Another huge acquisition for the J-League and I honestly believe this is just the beginning for the league after Japan’s success in the World Cup.
Their World Cup success has shown many fans and players that Japan can play some quality attacking football, they can defend with a solid line and so their club football shouldn’t be taken lightly. There are some other names being thrown out there with many other clubs, however, the main one is English defender John Terry. They reckon all he cares about is the money and at the minute, Japanese teams are outbidding everyone else to get these global stars to come to Japan.
These are exciting times for Japanese football and I cannot wait to report and cover everything for you, especially with the J-League returning shortly, just after the World Cup concludes. This J-League season just got serious!