Every weekend is special in the J.League but this Saturday will be even more so as we celebrate two decades since the start of the Japanese professional football league with the J.League 20th Anniversary Match!
The division kicked off on May 15, 1993 when Verdy Kawasaki took on Yokohama Marinos in front of a sold out crowd of nearly 60,000 at National Stadium in Tokyo.
Hennie Meijer struck the first ever J.League goal and gave Verdy the lead in the first half but second half efforts from Everton and Ramon Diaz saw Yokohama come from behind to seal the victory in that historic first game.
Verdy would eventually go on to become champions in that landmark first season, although since then it is another club which has established itself as the most successful in the J.League.
Kashima Antlers have won a record seven J1 titles and in honour of that fact their game this weekend against Urawa Reds – who boast the biggest cumulative attendance over the first 20 years of the J.League, and were the first J.League side to win the AFC Champions League – has been selected as the 20th Anniversary Match.
A legendary player from each team’s history will also be in attendance to mark the occasion, with Reds’ Robson Ponte and Antlers’ Alcindo scheduled to be making appearances at Saitama Stadium.
Of course, as well as looking back on the journey traveled both teams will be desperate to strengthen their immediate futures with three points as they have both started the 2013 season strongly, sitting fourth and third, respectively.
With that in mind this match is sure to be fiercely contested and a wonderful way to mark the J.League’s 20th Anniversary – don’t miss it!
TRIVIA! We mentioned above who scored the first goals in the J.League, but can anyone tell us who the first Japanese player was to get on the scoresheet?