J League Club Culture comes from European Style or South American Style
A lot of famous football players played in J-League since it started in 1993. In the beginning, J-League was one of the biggest football league in the world. European football league was not economically big as now. The 1990s can be called golden era of J-league. At that time, the base of J league club culture was built up. I list up famous players and staff who were in J-League in the past here:
・Arthur Antunes Coimbra (Zico): 1991–1994 Kashima Antlers
・Guido Ulrich Buchwald: 1994 – 1997 Urawa Red Diamonds
・Dragan Stojković: 1994 – 2001 Nagoya Granpas
・Michael Laudrup: 1996 – 1997 Vissel Kobe
・Gary Winston Lineker: 1992 – 1994 Nagoya Granpas
・Carlos Caetano Bledorn Verri (Dunga): 1995 – 1998 Jubilo Iwata
<Head Coach or Club Staff>
・Arthur Antunes Coimbra (Zico): Technical Director 2018- Kashima Antlers
・Guido Ulrich Buchwald: Head Coach 2004 – 2006 Urawa Red Diamonds
・Dragan Stojković: Head Coach 2008 – 2013 Nagoya Granpas
・Arsène Wenger: Head Coach 1995 – 1996 Nagoya Granpas
・Ivan Osim: Head Coach 2003 – 2006 Jef United Chiba
On the other hand, Japan football clubs have had negative complex to European and South American countries. And it still continues. Additionally, European football has grown dramatically for past 3 decades. Japan kept behind them completely.
Japanese football clubs could not reach European football market very well, because almost all of them cannot speak English and J-League and JFA developed their market only in domestic. That is why a lot of Brazilian players come to Japan. Brazil has historical relation to Japan.
Japanese people immigrated to Brazil in the past and lots of Brazilian workers have came to Japan as well. Japan and Brazil culture can be close easily, and Japan respects Brazilian football culture and knowledge strongly. Then after J-League started, Brazilian football soaked into Japan Football.
That makes Brazilian football agents send players to Japan easily. Japanese sportive staff have strong connection with Brazilian agents and relied on them. You can find a lot of Brazilian players (61 / 109 on 06/2021) in J-league, please see Transfermarkt data below.
However the trend is of course different between each clubs. J clubs have their own history and choose its strategy inspired by what they selected. I can show you some examples which clubs are inspired by which country strongly. It helps you to understand J clubs more than now.
This club was really Brazilianized, thanks to Zico. The base of the club glorious history is built by Zico. Zico professionalized the club with all his experiences. After he left the club, he had a strong influence on the club.
Additionally Zico became the Japan men’s National Team Head Coach in 2002- 2006. That is why the club have got a lot of Brazilian players. The football style is based on 4 – 4 – 2, and use individual ability to attack. Its football is totally almighty in defense and offence as well.
Urawa Red Diamonds
This club has been inspired by European football, especially Germany. Guido Buchwald, who was former West German National Team Player, played in the club and became a head coach. He brought the first League Cup to the club.
After that, the club had several European players (sometime they had Brazilian players), and when Mihailo Petrović was their head coach, the club had second golden era. Recently, the club tries to reinforce the team with European players.
The club had several famous European players and head coach. Especially Dragan Stojković and Arsène Wenger influenced the team strongly. The football style is Europeanized defensive football. Additionally this club grew Keisuke Honda and Maya Yoshida in its youth academy. Then the club sends them to VVV Venlo, the Dutch club.
Jef United Chiba
The remarkable person in this club history is Ivan Osim. He installed direct pass football in the club and brought golden era for the club. The football influenced Japan football itself, then he became a head coach in Japan men’s National Team as well. After that, they were in lost and now in 2nd Division for more or less 10 years.
This club had relationship with FC Barcelona in the early days. After Mr. Mikitani, who is the founder and CEO of Rakuten, Inc, purchased the club, he tried to reinforce the club with his finance power. The football style itself was not fixed for decades but now they try to be FC Barcelonanized with FC Barcelona.
The team is also Brazilianized in the past. In the early days, Dunga influenced the team strongly. The team style was pass football with individual high techniques. The club build its own style in 2000s and enjoyed its golden era. However, after that, they cannot keep their financial competitiveness. They slightly got weaker and now belong to the 2nd Division.
Japan style clubs
If we say clubs which have own football style. It could be Kawasaki Frontale. After 2000s, they start to become competitive little by little. The representative strategy is beautiful aggressive pass football combined with positional play.
The base of style was built by Takashi Sekizuka, Yahiro Kazama and Toru Oniki. All three are Japanese head coach. In that meaning, this team purely represents Japan Football style at this moment. Of course the football style is inspired by several football trends, but they mixed and optimized to Japan Football completely. Currently the club won J League 3 times in 4 years.
There are a few examples. I will introduce each J league club cultures later one by one.