Watching a player like Ryo Miyachi, an 18-year-old left winger who didn’t play senior ball until last January, shows you how far Japanese football has come.
Miyachi, who was playing for a high school team in his hometown Okazaka when Arsenal signed him for a five year contract, couldn’t play in England without a work permit, and was sent on a loan to Dutch club Feyenoord where he impressed on several showings. He’s smart and instinctive, understands football well, and posses high technical skills. He’s a far better player than what Hidetoshi Nakata, Japan’s greatest player, ever was. Again, he’s only 18.
He’s not the only up and coming Japanese to star in Europe. CSKA Moscow’s Keisuke Honda and Borussia Dortmund’s Shinji Kagawa are just two examples of Japanese players who are an integral part of their team. Both players have similar qualities of a classic European superstar, like Wesley Sneijder.
The Japanese footballers are not going to be signed just because of the gimmick or the fact that they will help their club gain easy commercial income from the Japanese market. Rather, they are signed because they are bloody good.
Japan might turn to be the future footballers mine in the future. With a population of more than 130 million people; great scientific and technological developments; the adoption of European style league; ; investments in academies; learning from the experience of top European and South American coaches for more than 25 years, and the great popularity of the game in the country the future of football might be Japanese, and no earth quake is going to stop that from happening.