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Masakatsu MIYAMOTO

Japan Football Hall of Fame

1st group of inductees, 2005
Born in Ibaraki Prefecture on July 4, 1938.
Joins Furukawa Electric after graduating from Hitachi First Senior High School and Waseda University. Plays in 103 games as a defender in the JSL (with Furukawa Electric), scoring 19 goals. Named in the annual best XI on three occasions.
Called up to the full Japanese national team while still a student at Waseda University. Appears at the Games of the 18th Olympiad (1964, Tokyo) and at the Games of the 19th Olympiad (1968, Mexico City) with the national team. Contributes to the third place finish in the Mexico City Games. Also appears at the 4th and 5th editions of the Asian Games (achieving third place in the latter). Appears in a total of 44 "A" matches for the Japan national team, scoring one goal.
After a spell as manager at Waseda University, Miyamoto is appointed as manager of the Honda Motor Company football club in 1983. Later appointed as the first manager of Kashima Antlers when the J League opens in 1992, leading the team to the first stage championship in the opening year. Also takes charge of Shimizu S-Pulse in 1995.
Passes away in 2002.
Elected to Japan Football Hall of Fame as part of first group of inductees in 2005.

*Information supplied by Japan Football Museum

Introduction

Known as a "professional" in an era of amateurs; won Japan's first ever professional league title as manager

While the Olympic Games was still the ultimate amateur competition, the Japanese national football team managed to finish third and win the bronze medal in Mexico City in 1968, but one of the defenders in this Japan team, Masakatsu Miyamoto, was labelled by Dettmar Cramer as a "professional". At just 170cm tall, Miyamoto was not large in stature, but he could boast both physical strength and a determination to win possession - in what is known in German as Kampf um den Ball, or "the battle for the ball" - that rivalled any European. The aggression and speed with which he chased down his opponents put him a class ahead of any of his Japanese peers.

Miyamoto recorded 19 goals and five assists in 103 matches over ten years in the JSL (Japan Soccer League) with Furukawa Electric, from the league's inaugural season in 1965 up to 1974, but the bold manner in which he faced up to younger star players such as Ryuichi Sugiyama (Mitsubishi Heavy Industries; now Urawa Reds) and Kunishige Kamamoto (Yanmar; now Cerezo Osaka) resulted in a number of intriguing one-on-one contests for Japanese football observers to enjoy. His speed, strength, and the number eight on the back of his shirt led him to become known by the nickname of "Eightman" - alongside "Astro Boy", one of the most popular Japanese anime characters of the time.

After finishing his playing career in 1974, Miyamoto took on management roles in university (with Waseda University) and company (with Honda Motor Company) football, before taking charge of Kashima Antlers in 1992 ahead of the launch of the J. League. Kashima won the first stage title in 1993, meaning that the player who was known as a "professional" in an era of amateurs had become the first manager to win a genuinely and wholly professional football league championship in Japan.

The title for Kashima was largely down to the exploits of their greatest player, Zico, who also coached the side, but the role of Miyamoto as manager must not be forgotten. He built a defensive line-up in his own image, with players (including a young Yutaka Akita) that were "physically strong and capable of aggressive play".

The first time that I ever saw Miyamoto play in the flesh was in January 1957, when he led Hitachi First Senior High School to the final of the 35th All-Japan High School Football Championship Tournament at Nishinomiya. In his second year, the school's football team had finished third in the 10th National Sports Festival in Kanagawa. At the 11th National Sports Festival in Hyogo in his third year, Miyamoto had been a major influence in his school's run to the quarter finals, and so I had already heard of him by this point, but the impression I gained from seeing him in the flesh at Nishinomiya remains with me to this day.

The first thing I noticed was how powerful his kicking was. The sheer pace at which a ball he had struck would fly towards goal was something unlike any other high school player. The speed with which he would close down an opponent and the ferocity of his tackles were also quite exceptional.

Hitachi First Senior High School lost 3-2 to Urawa West High School in the final, but Miyamoto was a natural choice as the best of the 12 players to be selected in the team of the tournament.

Though more than ten years had passed since the end of the war, Japanese society was still in a poor state, and just as every other sport, football was taking a long time to fully recover. As such, I was extremely happy to discover a young player like Miyamoto, who exhibited such physical presence (despite not being especially large in stature) and powerful play.

Miyamoto moved to Waseda University, where he became a regular in the football team from his first year. After some fine displays in the Kanto University League, he was called up for the Japanese national team the following season.

Being such a strong, fast player, Miyamoto's one weak point was that he could sometimes lose his temper amidst the heat of the battle, but this was something that he gradually worked to overcome as he grew to become an irreplaceable defender for the national team.

The worst moment of his career came on 19 August 1964 during a match against Czechoslovakia - the eighth game of the Japanese national team's tour of Europe that summer. Sliding in to block an opponent's shot ten minutes into the second half, Miyamoto suffered a fracture of the right malleolus. With less than three months before the Olympic Games in Tokyo, his chances of appearing looked remote, but after returning to Japan ahead of his teammates to focus on his rehabilitation, he somehow managed to recover in time to be called into the squad. Although he was ultimately unable to feature on the pitch, his presence in reserve alone was a great source of comfort to the team as a whole.

Four year later in Mexico City, at the age of 30, Miyamoto played a vital role in the Japanese defensive unit alongside sweeper Mitsuo Kamata, appearing in five matches at the Games.

This strong defence was cited as one of the reasons that Japan were able to win the bronze medal, but in their quarter final match with France immediately after the initial group stage, Miyamoto demonstrate true medal-winning quality with a long, fast pass under pressure that led to the opening goal for Kamamoto. With a power greater than any of his Japanese teammates, his ball became a fast, diagonal cross that cut straight through the shallow French defence.

Even now, whenever I watch the strikingly fast-paced interchanges of strong passes in the major European football leagues, I still recall the "professional" passing of Masakatsu Miyamoto from some 40 years ago.

Profile

  • 4 July 1938 - Born in Hitachi City, Ibaraki Prefecture.
  • 1951 - Enters Hitachi Municipal Sakegawa Junior High School.
  • 1954 - Enters Ibaraki Prefectural Hitachi First Senior High School.
  • January 1957 - Makes his first appearance at the 35th All-Japan High School Football Championship Tournament, helping the team to the final. Finishes as top scorer and player of the tournament.
    April - Enters Waseda University. Becomes a regular in the university's association football team from his first year. In four years, he wins three Kanto University League titles, and two East-West University Challenge Matches.
  • December 1958 - Makes his debut for the Japanese national team against Hong Kong (Japan lose 2-5).
  • August 1959 - Appears at the 3rd Merdeka Tournament (Kuala Lumpur, completed in September)
    December - Japan records one win and one defeat (0-2, 1-0) against South Korea in qualification for the Olympic Games in Rome, missing out on the Games themselves by virtue of the aggregate scoreline.
  • November 1960 - Japan loses 2-1 to South Korea in their first qualifying match for the World Cup in Chile.
  • 1961 - Joins Furukawa Electric.
    May - Furukawa Electric wins the 41st Emperor's Cup.
    July - Furukawa Electric wins the All-Japan Company Team Tournament (beating Hitachi 3-1 in the final).
    June - Japan is eliminated from qualification for the World Cup in Chile after losing their second game 2-0
    August - Appears at the 5th Merdeka Tournament (Kuala Lumpur).
  • August 1962 - 4th Asian Games (Jakarta)
    September - 6th Merdeka Tournament (Kuala Lumpur)
    Furukawa Electric shares the all-Japan Company Team Tournament title with Toyo Industries after a 0-0 draw in the final.
  • August 1963 - 7th Merdeka Tournament (Kuala Lumpur)
    October - Appears at the Tokyo International Sports Tournament.
  • August 1964 - Ruled out of action after suffering an injury to his right foot (malleolus) in Japan's 3-1 defeat to a Czech league select XI in Prague. Returns home from the national team's tour alone to work on his recovery.
    October - Recovers from injury after constant rehabilitation efforts to take his place in the Japanese national team squad at the Tokyo Olympic Games (although he did not appear on the pitch).
  • January 1965 - After an initial group stage, Furukawa Electric plays Yawata Steel in the final of the 44th Emperor's Cup. Extra time fails to produce a result, meaning that the cup is shared for the only time in its history.
  • November 1966 - Named in the JSL's annual best XI (also named in 1967 and 1968). December - Helps Japan to third place at the 5th Asian Games in Bangkok (appearing in five of Japan's seven games).
  • October 1967 - Japan qualifies for the football tournament at the Mexico City Olympic Games (Miyamoto plays in one qualifying match).
  • 1968 - Appears in five matches at the Olympic Games in Mexico City, making a major contribution as Japan ultimately wins the bronze medal (although Miyamoto did not feature in the third-place playoff).
  • October 1969 - Appears in the qualifying tournament for the World Cup in Mexico (coming off the bench in two matches).
  • October 1971 - Retires from the national team after the qualifying tournament for the Olympic Games in Munich (appears in all of Japan's four qualifying matches in September and October).
  • 1974 - Retires from playing altogether, with a JSL record of 103 appearances and 19 goals (1965-74).
  • 1978 - Appointed as manager of the Waseda University football team (serving until 1982).
  • 1983 - Appointed as manager of the Honda Motor Company football team (serving until 1988).
  • 1992 - Appointed as the first ever manager of Kashima Antlers (serving until 1994).
  • 1993 - Leads Kashima Antlers to the J. League First Stage title, making them the first ever J. League champions.
  • January 1994 - Kashima Antlers finish as runners-up in the Emperor's Cup (losing 6-2 to Yokohama Flugels after extra time in the final).
  • 1995 - Appointed as manager of Shimizu S-Pulse.
  • 7 May 2002 - Dies of pneumonia at the age of 63.
* Japanese national team record
 International "A" matches: 44 caps, 1 goal
* J. League management record
 64 wins, 46 defeats (110 matches)