In an Olympic warm-up match on July 17th, Beijing time, forward Tang Anlu received Kubo Kenying’s cross and shot with a shocking left foot, piercing the gate of the powerful Spanish Olympic team. With this goal, the Japanese Olympic team drew a strong opponent at home.
In the subsequent Olympic men’s football group matches, the Japanese and South Korean Olympic teams continued their strong performance since the 2012 London Olympics, and both advanced to the knockout rounds as the first in the group.
It is not the first time that the Japanese Olympic team has shown amazing combat effectiveness when facing a strong European enemy. As early as the end of 2019, the Japanese Olympic team at the time had an away victory over the main Brazilian Olympic team in a friendly match, causing a tsunami of public opinion. In this Tokyo Olympics, Japan’s Olympics even beat Mexico, defeating France, and after eliminating New Zealand in a penalty shootout, they advanced to the semi-finals and finally won fourth place.
On August 3, 2021, in the men’s football semifinals of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Tang Anlu receives the ball
When the Japanese team announced the final 18-man squad for the Olympic Games in June, there were more than 10 European athletes in the lineup. The media exclaimed that this was “the strongest Japanese National Olympic Games in history.” In a training camp for the Japanese national team in October 2020, the national team head coach Mori Yasuichi even chose a national team roster consisting of all European players. The huge power of Japanese players overseas is evident.
The two leading goalscorers in the draw for the Spanish National Olympics also played in the top European leagues: Tang Anlu was loaned to the Bundesliga Bielefeld club by the Dutch giants Eindhoven last season and played for a season; and He sent the assist to Kubo Jianying, and he is also a young and famous La Liga “genius boy”.
While Japan’s “Greenery Meiji Restoration” was in full swing, their old Asian rival “Tai Chi Tiger” South Korea did not rest on its laurels. Although the absolute number of players in Europe is less than that of Japan, South Korea has produced the hottest superstar Sun Xingmin in Asia. The top two teams in East Asia have achieved phased breakthroughs in their respective football Westernization campaigns.
The starting point for the European career of Japanese and Korean football is not low. At the end of the 1970s, Japan’s first overseas student Okuji Yasuhiko and South Korea’s European pioneer Che Fangen landed in the Bundesliga in the summer of 1977 and at the end of 1978.
Both of them were discovered by Bundesliga clubs by chance through international competition opportunities that year. Ouji Yasuhiko first joined the veteran powerhouse Cologne, and Che Fangen’s first stop in Germany was Darmstadt. Objectively speaking, the achievements of the two Asian pioneers in Europe are quite interesting. Their report card in Europe is still very dazzling even today, half a century later.
As the first Asian player to travel to Europe, Oku Temple won the league championship with the Cologne team in his first season in the Bundesliga. Since then, he also became the first Asian player to land in the Champions League.
As a pioneer in Europe at the time, he played for the strong players in the Bundesliga. Cologne and Werder Bremen have always been in the upper reaches of the Bundesliga. It is not a simple matter to be able to play in the high-level league for a long time. : Okuji Yasuhiko played more than 200 games in the Bundesliga, scoring 26 goals, which is commendable in that particular era.
In June 2010, the Korean League Cup, Che Fan-geun greeted the fans
On March 3, 2020, Hidetoshi Nakata will attend Paris Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2020
Ouji Yasuhiko and Che Fangen both started their overseas careers in Germany.
And Che Fangen’s Bundesliga career is still an insurmountable peak for countless Asian juniors. After he played for Darmstadt briefly in 1978, he joined the Bundesliga giant Frankfurt, who initially discovered his talent. He spent four brilliant years in Frankfurt and helped the team win the first UEFA Cup (the predecessor of the UEFA European League, second only to the UEFA Champions League) in team history.
In 1983, Che Fangen moved to another famous Bundesliga club Leverkusen, where he reached another peak of his European career. The Korean star helped Leverkusen qualify for the Europa League for the first time in the 1985-1986 season, and in 1988 helped the club win the first Europa League championship in team history. And this is already Che Fangen’s second Europa League championship.
During the break into Germany, Che Fangen won the unanimous respect of German football. Not only was he selected as the best team of the season by the authoritative football magazine “Kickers”, he also scored crucial goals in the 1988 Europa League final, which contributed to Leverkusen’s final victory.
When he retired in 1989, Che Fangen set a milestone of 308 appearances and 98 goals in the Bundesliga. This statistic was a record for foreign players in the Bundesliga until it was broken by Swiss star Chapu Isart in 1998.
The new climax of the World Cup
The hard work and glorious achievements of the two European pioneers laid a solid foundation for the future generations to travel to Europe. Coincidentally, Ouji Yasuhiko and Che Fangen both started their overseas careers in Germany, and both have made extraordinary achievements. So after that, the German club’s scouting work in Japan and South Korea has been further refined and in-depth, and the acceptance and trust of Japanese and South Korean players has also increased day by day.
In 2002, the World Cup came to Asia for the first time. As the host, Japan and South Korea ushered in a new wave of players studying abroad at the turn of the century. In the 2002 World Cup, the South Korean team and the Japanese team vividly demonstrated their great progress in their football skills at home. Both teams successfully reached the knockout stage, and the Japanese and Korean players had the best opportunity to show themselves on the international stage.
The tide of Japanese and Korean football players staying in the ocean began to develop from a trickle to a huge wave. In the “World Cup generation” national team, the representative figures of the Japanese team in Europe are mainly Nakata Hidetoshi who played for Serie A giants Roma, Celtic star Nakamura Shunsuke, German star Kogen Naotai and talented midfielder Shinji Ono.
In the late 1990s, Hidetoshi Nakata had already gained fame in Asian football. He won the Asian Footballer’s Award in 1997 and 1998 and was a landmark figure in the history of Japan’s travel to Europe. Before the World Cup, he had successfully landed in Serie A and helped the Roma club win the long-lost championship.
The first stop of Shunsuke Nakamura’s trip to Europe was Regina in Serie A, where he established a firm foothold. After the Japanese free kick master played for 3 seasons in the Apennines, he moved to the Scottish Celtics club and became an important cornerstone for the Soviet Super League giants to win three consecutive league championships.
Naotai Kogen and Shinji Ono have also maintained a high-level competitive state for a long time in clubs such as Bundesliga Hamburg and Eredivisie Feyenoord. Japanese players in Europe began to exert influence in more leagues.
South Korea’s brigade to Europe may not be able to compete with Japan in absolute numbers, but with the tenacious mental attributes and excellent skills of South Korean players, the country’s top-tier brigade star has never stopped production. After the World Cup, South Korea also ushered in a craze for players to travel to Europe, in which the Netherlands became the first stop for South Korea’s top stars at that time.
The Dutch “Fantastic Coach” coach Hiddink, who led the South Korean team to the World Cup semi-finals in 2002, is an important founder of this South Korean wave of overseas studies. After the World Cup, Hiddink retired and returned to Eindhoven, the Netherlands to coach. He also introduced Park Ji-sung and Lee Rong-pyo, the favorites of the Korean national team, to the Eredivisie. Among them, Park Ji-sung has become the absolute core of the Korean team and a leading figure abroad for a long period of time.
Former South Korean national Park Ji-sung
The Netherlands became the first overseas stop for South Korea’s top stars at the time.
Park Ji-sung performed well in Eindhoven, and after playing for three seasons, he was favored by the traditional Premier League giants Manchester United. At that time, Manchester United had a strong dominance in the Premier League, and the later Korean captain, with his unremitting efforts, gained a foothold in this veteran club and gradually became a powerful player under the coach of Sir Alex Ferguson.
In the seven years of playing for Manchester United, Park Ji-sung has won the Premier League, the Champions League and the Club World Cup with the team, and has grown to become the captain of the Korean national team. Park Ji-sung can be said to be the most accomplished and influential Asian player from Europe in his era.
In the ten years after the World Cup in Japan and South Korea, the development of Japanese and South Korean players in Europe has shown a trend of broader dimensions and greater influence. Japan and South Korea football has gone through the sporadic top players’ study abroad before the millennium, and after the enthusiasm of travel to Europe initiated by the World Cup, it has already won a good reputation in European football. During this period, clubs in various European leagues have regarded Japan and South Korea as an important part of their global scouting system.
In the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, Japan and South Korea already had a large number of European nationals. Among them, there are many famous Chinese fans such as Makoto Hasebe, Ji Chengyong, Cha Duli and Li Qinglong. The overseas trajectories of these players are found in major European leagues, from Russia in the east to the United Kingdom in the northwest. There are Japanese and Korean players.
During this period, Japanese and Korean players in Europe have deeply rooted in major leagues. Among them, the Japanese Makoto Hasebe played for Bundesliga Frankfurt for 8 years, and finally became the captain of this Bundesliga powerhouse. During this period, the Japanese and South Korean players have formed a regimented state of staying abroad. The backbone of many local clubs have the strength to travel to Europe and have made proud achievements in Europe.
“Japanese Messi” and “Three Masters of La Masia”
Based on the solid foundation of several generations of predecessors working overseas, East Asia has become another high-quality “raw material supplier” in European football after Latin America and Africa.
In the past, due to the mature development of the local football industry in Europe, the well-developed scout network and the large number of clubs, local talents in European countries were discovered and recruited by major clubs when they were very young. many.
Kenhide Kubo (the ball-handler in the picture) is hailed as “Japanese Messi”
In order to obtain better quality players at relatively low prices, some small and medium-sized clubs tend to focus on Latin America and Africa, which are deeply influenced by European culture and average economic level, hoping to bring talented players to Europe in their youth. Polish it.
Japan and South Korea are not the early “semi-finished” player output areas. However, with the development of overseas careers for many years, the transfer strategy of European giants has long gone from introducing famous players from Japan and South Korea to recruiting excellent seedlings, and bringing these “semi-finished” talents to Europe for processing.
Sun Xingmin, currently the No. 1 star in Asia in Europe, was only 16 years old when he joined the Bundesliga team Hamburg and was not a mature professional player. It can be said that this Korean king grew up under the forging of the German youth training system. In recent years, the phenomenon of the younger age of Japanese and Korean players studying abroad has been fully reflected in the La Masia youth training camp in Barcelona, Spain.
With the club’s scouting network, in Japan and South Korea, La Masia youth academy was able to discover the talents of players early in their teenage years and recruit them to Europe. 2011 was a landmark year for the large-scale export of outstanding Japanese and Korean seedlings overseas. During this year, three Korean young talents, Li Seung-woo, Bai Seung-ho and Jang Jie-hee, once known as the “Three Masters of La Masia”, joined Barcelona’s youth training echelon together.
And their compatriot, currently an important member of the Korean Olympic team, Lee Gang-in, also joined the La Liga “Bat Corps” Valencia in the same year. In Catalonia and South Korea’s talented teenagers, Kenei Kubo, who scored three goals in this Tokyo Olympics, was known as “Messi of Japan”.
Back then, when these Japanese and Korean players went abroad to Spain, they were all under 15 years old. Kubo Jianying and Li Gangren were only 10 years old. But in 2014, FC Barcelona was punished by FIFA for being convicted of illegally introducing minor international players. These small Asian stars from La Masia also went their separate ways because of this change. Many of the Japanese and Korean elites who have stayed abroad early in their youth have now gained a firm foothold in European football, and some of those who have not reached the expected height have returned to the local leagues.
After several generations of players in Europe, the Japanese and Korean leagues have gone from being a sporadic elite overseas, developing to a large-scale export of mature stars, and reaching the stage of stably playing as the “supplier” of European clubs. In recent years, the performance of Japan and South Korea’s national teams at all levels has been able to maintain an overall upward trend, which is directly related to the fact that the two countries have a large number of international players playing in high-level overseas leagues.