The club was founded in 1972 as the football division of Nissan Motors. After climbing up through the regional leagues, Marinos became a powerhouse of Japanese football, winning the national championship in 1989 and 1990.
The Yokohama franchise, renamed Yokohama Marinos, became one of the first clubs accepted as founding member of the J.League in 1991. In 1992 they won the Emperor’s Cup, their first trophy as a professional club.
When the first full season of professional Japanese football kicked off on May 15th 1993, Marinos played the opening game versus Verdy Kawasaki, beating them 2-1.
They would however have to wait until 1995 to clinch their first J.League title, when they defeated their arch-rivals Verdy in the two-legged championship final after winning the season’s first stage.
Following Yokohama Flugels’ bankruptcy at the end of the 1999 season, Marinos controversially absorbed their rival, adding the ‘F.’ to their name in the process.
Marinos’ ‘Golden Years’ were in the early 2000s, which featured two straight league championships in 2003 and 2004 as well as the 2001 Yamazaki Nabisco Cup.
As one of the biggest contributors of players to Japan’s World Cup squads, they remain one of the J.League’s most popular clubs. Their nine-year trophy drought ended on New Year’s Day 2014, when they captured the Emperor’s Cup after falling just short in the 2013 J.League campaign.
Masami Ihara, an elegant center-back who spent a decade at Marinos and participated in Japan’s first-ever World Cup in 1998, is considered the team’s ‘historical’ captain.
Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi defended the Marinos goal from 1995 to 2001 before trying his luck in England at Portsmouth. At 38, he remains an active player at Jubilo Iwata with over 400 total J1 appearances.
Another popular player who started his career in Yokohama is Japanese fantasista Shunsuke Nakamura, who returned to the club in 2012 after a successful career in Europe that saw him playing for Reggina, Celtic and Espanyol.
Charismatic center-back Yuji ‘Bomberhead’ Nakazawa was one of Japan’s heroes at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, and among the club’s memorable foreigner players is the Brazilian Marquinhos, who is the league’s fourth all-time leading scorer with over 130 goals.
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