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Cerezo Osaka capitalise on Forlan effect with overseas push

Dan Orlowitz

The former Manchester United star’s arrival in Japan has breathed life into the struggling J-League

In the 18th year of a storied career that has included honours on three continents, Diego Forlan still has a few tricks up his sleeve.

Since joining the J-League’s Cerezo Osaka in January, the 34-year-old striker has not only scored six goals in 11 appearances, but also crucially arrested the decline in domestic attendances.

The club’s average home attendance stands at nearly 27,000 after five matches, representing an increase of 8,000 over last season. In total, Cerezo have drawn 297,865 fans to their first 11 games - nearly double the 158,770 who saw the team play over the same period last season.

Aware of Forlan's global popularity, Cerezo have decided the time is right to connect to fans outside Japan.

Through a short video greeting by Forlan, the club launched their official English-language Twitter account at @crz_english. Similar accounts were also launched in Indonesian and Thai, with all three languages to eventually be supported on the club’s official website and Facebook pages in a first for Japan.

The Indonesian and Thai language accounts represent the latest effort by J-League clubs to capture the South-East Asian market. Several J-League clubs have signed partnerships with clubs from the region in recent years, including Cerezo’s agreement with Thailand’s Bangkok Glass.

Forlan’s team-mates Yoichiro Kakitani and Hotaru Yamaguchi are also expected to participate in this year’s World Cup, as are Cerezo alumni Shinji Kagawa (Manchester United), Hiroshi Kiyotake (Nurnberg), and Kim Bo-Kyung (Cardiff City).