Yasuhiko Okudera

Yasuhiko Okudera
Personal information
Full name Yasuhiko Okudera
Date of birth (1952-03-12) 12 March 1952
Place of birth Kazuno, Akita, Japan
Height 1.77 m (5 ft 9 12 in)
Playing position Midfielder
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1970–1977 Furukawa Electric 100 (36)
1977–1980 Köln 75 (15)
1980–1981 Hertha 25 (8)
1981–1986 Werder Bremen 159 (11)
1986–1988 Furukawa Electric 43 (3)
Total 402 (73)
National team
1972–1987[1] Japan 32 (9)
Teams managed
1996 JEF United Ichihara

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

Yasuhiko Okudera (奥寺 康彦 Okudera Yasuhiko, born 12 March 1952) is a former Japanese footballer who is currently the president of J2 League club Yokohama FC and was formerly the president of English club Plymouth Argyle. Okudera was the first Japanese footballer to play professionally in Europe,[2] as well as being the first Asian football player to score in the European Cup, while playing for 1. FC Köln in the 1979 semi-final match against Nottingham Forest F.C. and made 32 appearances – scoring nine goals – with the Japanese national team.

Playing career

Okudera began his playing career in 1970 as an employee of Furukawa Electric, whose soccer team played in the corporate Japan Soccer League, the top flight league in Japan at the time.[3] In the summer of 1977, during the team's trip to Germany, he was spotted by Bundesliga club 1. FC Köln manager Hennes Weisweiler.[3] 1. FC Köln made a contract offer.[3] Okudera made his debut on 5 October 1977, becoming the first Japanese player to play top flight football in Europe, and Köln won the Bundesliga title that year.[3]

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 1985–86, Bremen finished second in the league three times.

In the summer of 1986, 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 J1 League started play in 1993, he served as the president and manager of Furukawa, which had become JEF United Ichihara (now JEF United Chiba) with limited success. In 1998, he joined his Köln teammate Pierre Littbarski and helped form Yokohama FC. With Okudera as president and Littbarski the manager, Yokohama climbed up the ranks from the lower-tier Japan Football League and promoted to the J1 League in December 2006.

On 5 December 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 20 June 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. Since this appointment Argyle have suffered a relegation and serious financial difficulties. Okudera was replaced in his role by former Fans Trust leader Chris Webb, who had played a key part in rescuing Argyle from liquidation.[4]

Club statistics

Club performance League Cup League Cup Continental Total
Season Club League Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Japan League Emperor's Cup League Cup Asia Total
1970Furukawa ElectricJSL Division 173
Germany League DFB-Pokal Other Europe Total
1980–81Hertha2. Bundesliga25840298
1981–82Werder BremenBundesliga30240342
Japan League Emperor's Cup League Cup Asia Total
1986–87Furukawa ElectricJSL Division 1212
Total Japan 14339
Germany 2593437417331341
Career total 40273

National team statistics

Japan national team

Managerial statistics


Team From To Record
JEF United Ichihara 1996 1996 30 13 0 17 43.33
Total 30 13 0 17 43.33

Honors and awards

Team Honors



  1. "OKUDERA Yasuhiko". Japan National Football Team Database. Retrieved 13 July 2013.
  2. "Argyle appoint Japanese president". BBC. 20 June 2008. Retrieved 24 June 2008.
  3. 1 2 3 4 "Yasuhiko Okudera: I learnt by playing abroad". FIFA. 22 December 2005. Retrieved 26 December 2012.
  4. "Chris Webb named Argyle president". Plymouth Argyle F.C. 8 November 2011. Retrieved 8 November 2011.
  5. J.League Data Site(Japanese)
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