Okudera, three others join Japan Football Hall of Fame
Former Japan international Okudera Yasuhiko has entered the Japan Football Hall of Fame along with three others who made great contributions to the sport in Japan.
The new Hall of Famers were honored in a ceremony on Monday at JFA House in Tokyo.
Okudera, 60, was the first Japanese to become a professional player, playing for 1FC Koln and Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga from 1977 to 1986. He played in 259 matches and scored 34 goals during his nine-year spell in Germany.
The native of Akita Prefecture scored for Koln in the first-leg of the semifinals of the UEFA Champions Cup when his team drew 3-3 with Nottingham Forest in the 1978-79 season. After moving to Werder Bremen, he helped his team become a title contender. They finished second in 1983, ’85 and ’86.
Okudera also played for Furukawa Electric in the Japan Soccer League ― the predecessor of JEF United Chiba in the J. League ― before and after his Bundesliga days. He earned 32 caps for Japan between 1970 and 1988.
After hanging up his boots at the end of the 1987-88 season, Okudera worked in the front office at JEF United Chiba and Yokohama FC. He is currently chairman of Yokohama FC.
“It is a nice surprise to see many Japanese footballers go to play in Europe now,” he commented. “It shows the good development of Japanese players and football.”
Joining him in the Hall of Fame was Nagai Yoshikazu, his teammate at Furukawa Electric FC in the old JSL.
The 60-year-old Saitama native played in 272 matches ― a JSL record ― and scored 63 goals as a forward during his career at Furukawa between 1970 and 1988. He played in 69 mathches for Japan, scoring nine goals. He was the model for the hit manga and TV animation story “Akaki-chi no Eleven.”
After retiring as a player, Nagai became an assistant manager at Furukawa and went on to take the helm of various teams, including the Japan youth national team, Albirex Niigata and Yokohama FC. He is currently manager of Ablaze Chiba SC in Chiba.
Football commentator Kaneko Katsuhiko, 78, and the late Narahara Takeshi were also named to the Hall of Fame.
Kaneko had a famous football TV show ― “Mitsubishi Diamond Soccer” ― on TV Tokyo for 20 years from 1968, and was in charge of the live broadcast of the 1974 World Cup final in West Germany.
Narahara, who passed away in 2007, was a former journalist at Kyodo News and chief editor for JFA News. He compiled the books “The Emperor’s Cup 65-year History” and “The Japan Football Association’s 75-year History” among other works.
The Japan Football Hall of Fame now has a total of 62 inductees.