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 is a former Japanesemarker footballer, and is currently the president of two clubs; the J. League Division 2 club  Yokohama FC and the English Football League Championship side Plymouth Argyle F.C. Okudera was the first Japanese footballer to play professionally in Europe, as well as being the first Asian football player to score in the European Cup, in the semi-final match against Nottingham Forest F.C. and made 32 appearances - scoring 9 goals - with the Japanese national team.

Playing career

Okudera began his playing career in 1970 as an employee of Furukawa Electric Co Ltd., whose soccer team played in the corporate Japan Soccer League, the top flight league in Japan at the time. In the summer of 1977, during the team's trip to Germanymarker, he was spotted by Bundesliga club 1. FC Köln manager Hennes Weisweiler. 1. FC Köln made a contract offer. Okudera made his debut on October 5, 1977, becoming the first Japanese player to play top flight football in Europe, and Köln won the Bundesliga title that year.

After Weisweiler left Cologne during the 1980/81, Okudera joined second division Hertha BSC. Although Hertha missed promotion to the first division, he joined the newly promoted Werder Bremen, whose coach Otto Rehhagel saw his play when the two sides met and offered a contract. Between 1981/82 and 1984/85, Bremen finished second in the league three times.

In the summer of 1985, Okudera returned to his old Japanese club, Furukuwa Electric and became one of the first recognized professional players in JSL. He ended his German career with 234 appearances and 26 goals. He retired as a player in 1988.

Off the pitch

Okudera's return home spurred the professionalization of the Japanese game, which had been stuck in amateur play for decades. He was the first native-born professional player in his home league, as before only foreigners (usually Brazilians) were paid strictly to play football by the companies.

After the J. League started play in 1993, he served as the president and manager of Furukawa, which had become JEF United Ichihara (now JEF United Ichihara Chiba) with limited success. In 1998, he joined his Köln teammate Pierre Littbarski and helped form Yokohama F.C.. With Okudera as president and Littbarski the manager, Yokohama climbed up the ranks from the lower-tier Japan Football League and promoted to the J. League's first division in December 2006.

On December 5, 2003, Okudera and former South Korean star Cha Bum-Kun were the Asian representatives at the preliminary draw, which determined the groupings for the qualifying matches for the 2006 FIFA World Cup.

On June 20, 2008, Okudera was appointed President of the Football League Championship side Plymouth Argyle tasked with playing a global ambassador role and further strengthening the club's profile in Asia.

Career statistics

Honors and awards

Team Honors


External links

1970 Furukawa Electric JSL Division 1 7 3
1971 9 5
1972 8 0
1973 18 6
1974 18 5
1975 18 9
1976 18 8
1977 4 0

1977-78 Köln Bundesliga 20 4
1978-79 24 5
1979-80 30 6
1980-81 1 0
1980-81 Hertha BSC 2. Bundesliga 25 8
1981-82 Werder Bremen Bundesliga 30 2
1982-83 34 4
1983-84 29 1
1984-85 33 3
1985-86 33 1

1986-87 Furukawa Electric JSL Division 1 21 2
1987-88 22 1

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