The Kansai region's most honoured club has returned to compete in the J1 after their first-ever relegation
After finishing in third place in both 2002 and 2004, the club finally had a breakout year in 2005 when they dramatically won the league. As cross-town rivals Cerezo Osaka drew to FC Tokyo at home, Gamba won handily at Kawasaki Frontale to eclipse the four other teams who were in the running for first place.
Gamba’s title success continued in 2007 when they captured the Nabisco Cup. One year later they became the second straight Japanese team to win the AFC Champions League after defeating Adelaide United 5-0 on aggregate. Following a respectable third-place finish in that year’s Club World Cup, the Yasuhito Endo-led side claimed the Emperor’s Cup on January 1, 2008 to complete the double.
Though Gamba would win another Emperor’s Cup one year later and consistently demonstrated attractive attacking football, they were never quite able to replicate their 2005 title run. Between 2002 and 2011, the club finished in third place six times in addition to their runners-up spot in 2010.
2012 brought trouble for Gamba, however, as the team stumbled early in the season and never managed to recover. Their first-ever relegation resulted after a 17th place finish, but as most fans expected they ran rampant through the J2 in 2013 to earn a quick return to the top flight.
Centre-back Tsuneyasu Miyamoto played in Osaka for 12 years, including two seasons as the team’s captain. He represented Japan in the 2002 and 2006 FIFA World Cup and contributed to the country’s 2004 Asian Cup title. After his retirement in 2011, Miyamoto graduated from the FIFA Master program.
South Korea star and 2012 Asian Footballer of the Year Lee Keun-Ho spent a season and a half at Gamba, scoring 17 goals from 40 appearances across all competitions.
Gamba are also known for having bought and sold some of the best Brazilian players in the league. Magno Alves won the league’s Golden Boot in 2006 with his 26 goals, and was also named to that year’s Best XI.
Cameroon international Patrick M’Boma scored 29 goals in 34 total appearances for Gamba in 1997, playing there briefly in 1998 before leaving for Cagliari. He later returned to the J-League in 2003, playing at Tokyo Verdy and Vissel Kobe before retiring.
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