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Japanese Soccer Personalities

Shigeyoshi SUZUKI

Japan Football Hall of Fame

4th group of inductees, 2007
Born October 13, 1902, in Fukushima Prefecture
Founding father of soccer at Waseda. Introduced the coaching of Kyaw Din into Japanese soccer, and was an early contributor to soccer in Japan, being active on the international stage both as a player and as a coach.
Sets up association football clubs at Waseda High School and Waseda University, and forms Waseda WMW to include old boys after graduation. Refines technical abilities under coaching of Kyaw Din at Waseda High School, and wins All-Japan High School Association Football Tournament (Inter-High). This success leads to Kyaw Din coaching across the country and to an improvement in the level of Japanese soccer overall. At university, Suzuki is involved in the establishment of the Tokyo College League (now Kanto University League), and is among the players of the first champion side in 1925.
In 1927, captains Japan team consisting largely of players from Waseda WMW in 8th Far Eastern Championship Games (Shanghai), which achieves first ever full international victory in match against Philippines. As manager, leads Japan to draw with China and overall first place in 9th Far Eastern Championship Games (Meiji Shrine Stadium, Tokyo) in 1930, securing Japan's place at the top table of East Asian soccer. At the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, Suzuki backs up joint coaches Kudo and Takenokoshi to lead Japan to come from behind and beat a strong Sweden side, causing the name of Japan to become known throughout the world of soccer.
In 1928, publishes "Association Football" (Arusu Undo Daikoza) jointly with Yuzuru Nozu, contributing to the further spread of soccer.
Involved in the organization of the All-Japan Championship Tournament (now Emperor's Cup All-Japan Championship Tournament) as competitions committee member of JFA after its establishment, becomes standing director in 1929 and secretary in 1931, devoting his energies to building up the JFA organisation.
Also held posts of board member and executive director of Greater Japan Sports Association, and chairman of Waseda WMW.
Passes away in 1971.
Elected into Japan Football Hall of Fame as part of fourth group of inductees in 2007.

*Information supplied by Japan Football Museum


First Inter-High champions, first international victory, and miracle of first Olympics appearance in Berlin. Pon-Pon, a player and coach that opened up possibilities for Japanese soccer

The origins of the nickname "Pon-Pon" are unknown, but I remember nevertheless feeling the name suited him as soon as I saw him.

The footballing life of Shigeyoshi Suzuki, born in 1902, was full of "firsts", even on the international stage. These can be summarized as follows:
*Wins 1st All-Japan High School Association Football Tournament (Inter-High) in 1923 as member of Waseda High School
*Waseda University champions of 1st Tokyo College League (now Kanto University League) in 1925
*Captains Japanese national team in 8th Far Eastern Championship Games (Shanghai, 1927), leading them to beat the Philippines and record first ever international victory
*Manager of Japan at 9th Far Eastern Championship Games (Tokyo, 1930), achieving joint first place with Republic of China with W1 D1 record. First time for Japan to sit at top of East Asian soccer
*Manager of Japan national team in soccer competition of Berlin Olympic Games in 1936. Making its first appearance in the competition, Japan beats Sweden to achieve its first win

Suzuki was a player of 24 years of age when Japan achieved its first win against the Philippines. He was 27 when manager of the Japan national team in 1930, and 33 during the Berlin Olympics.

Suzuki moved from the Toshima Normal School-Affiliated Elementary School in Tokyo to the Tokyo Normal Higher School-Affiliated Junior High School, and it was here that his obsession with soccer began. Since soccer had been popular at his elementary school as well, he was part of an elite at the time that could claim to have "been kicking balls even since elementary school". Appearing as a fifth year in the Kanto Football Tournament held in February caused his preparations for high school entry examinations to be delayed, but just at this time, the Waseda High School - essentially a preparatory school for entry to Waseda University - was opening. Suzuki passed the entry examination and set another "first" during his first year - in creating the school's association football club, he would go down in history as the founding father of soccer at Waseda, which has now gone on to become a major name in the sport. He was therefore the head of the school's football club from his very first year at Waseda High School, and would go on to assist two older, University of Tokyo students - Sumioki Nitta (born 1897) and 4th JFA president Yuzuru Nozu (born 1899) - in the foundation of the JFA in 1921 and the operation of the 1st All-Japan Championship (now the Emperor's Cup) later that year.

When the "Inter-High" started in 1923 following a proposal from Nozu and others, it was down to the influence of Suzuki that Waseda High School was able to enter a tournament otherwise restricted to publicly administered schools. With Waseda High School winning the tournament thanks to the coaching of Kyaw Din, the Burmese coach would develop a strong reputation, leading to his travelling around the country and raising the overall level of Japanese soccer. Before he first met Kyaw Din, Suzuki had thought of himself as a talented footballer, but it was characteristic of "Pon-Pon" to go as far as to step aside and into a back-up role when he saw this younger man display greater playing technique and coaching skills that he possessed himself.

The success of 1930 is often put down to the strict leadership of player-coach Shigemaru Takenokoshi, but it was Suzuki who let "Noko" have a voice in the first place. It is also my opinion that one of the key factors behind the miraculous win in Berlin in 1936 was Suzuki's appointment of two strong coaches in "Noko" and Koichi Kudo of Waseda University.

"Pon-Pon" was inducted into the Japan Football Hall of Fame as a special contributor to the sport alongside Kyaw Din in September 2007. It is my hope that much more information will be discovered and that the world will become aware of even more of his achievements.


  • 26 October 1902 - Born.
  • March 1916 - Graduates from the Toshima Normal School-Affiliated Elementary School.
    April - Enters the old Tokyo Normal Higher School-Affiliated Junior High School, and continues his enjoyment of kicking footballs from elementary school.
  • February 1920 - Tokyo Normal Higher School-Affiliated Junior High School takes part in the 3rd Kanto Football Tournament, beating Gyosei Junior High School 3-0 in the first round, before going out to Aoyama Normal School in the second round on corner count following a 2-2 draw. Playing as a forward, Suzuki scores both goals against the strong Aoyama Normal School side.
  • 1921 - Tokyo Normal Higher School-Affiliated Junior High School beats Dokkyo Junior High School 6-0 in the first round of the 4th Kanto Football Tournament. The team draws 1-1 with Saitama Normal School in the second round, but with corner count also even, is eliminated on goal kick count.
    March - Graduates from Tokyo Normal Higher School-Affiliated Junior High School.
    April - Enters Waseda High School, and begins to train with other first years with experience of playing football at junior high school.
    September - The Greater Japan Football Association (now Japan Football Association - JFA) is formed, with Waseda High School becoming one of its earliest members.
    October - Waseda High School enters the Eastern qualifying tournament for the 1st All-Japan Championship (now the Emperor's Cup), but is knocked out in the semi-finals.
  • October 1922 - The Eastern qualifying tournament for the 2nd All-Japan Championship is held at the Tokyo Normal Higher School ground. Waseda High School is knocked out in the second round. Kyaw Din of Burma (Myanmar) is introduced to the Waseda University sports club by Takeshi Hirai, and contributes to rapid improvements in the level of football at Waseda High School.
  • January 1923 - Appears at the 1st All-Japan High School Association Football Tournament under the old system, hosted by Tokyo Imperial University (now the University of Tokyo) at the Tokyo Normal Higher School ground. Of the eight participating schools, Waseda High School emerges as champions.
    April - Graduates from Waseda High School and enters university. Founds Waseda University Association Football Club.
  • January 1924 - At the 2nd All-Japan High School Association Football Tournament, held again at the Tokyo Normal Higher School ground, Waseda High School takes the title for the second year in a row.
    24 January - Waseda University wins the first ever Waseda-Keio match 2-0
    February - The Tokyo College League (now the Kanto University League) is formed. Regulations for the league are determined, with the first season scheduled to take place in January and February the following year.
    September - Waseda University Association Football Club is recognised by the Student Council for School Activities, and begins activities as a de facto part of the university's sports association (becoming officially approved the following year). A new regular match is set up between Waseda University and Kwansei Gakuin University.
  • January-February 1925 - 1st Tokyo College League held. First and second divisions of six teams each compete in standard league format (playing each opponent once), with Waseda University emerging as inaugural champions of the first division (W4, L1). Tokyo Imperial University finishes second (W3, D1, L1), Hosei University third (W2, D1 L,2), Tokyo Normal Higher School fourth (W2, D1, L2 - separated on goal diference), Keio University fifth (W0, D3, L2), and Tokyo University of Agriculture sixth (W1, D0, L4). Tokyo University of Agriculture is relegated and replaced by second division champions Meiji University.
    May - Waseda University competes in the Japanese representative preliminary tournament for the 7th Far Eastern Championship Games, representing the Kanto region, but loses to Kansai representatives Osaka Soccer Club.
    November-December - Waseda University finishes second in the 2nd Tokyo College League (won by Tokyo Normal Higher School).
  • March 1926 - Graduates from Waseda University as part of the first group of graduates from the university's association football club. Forms the WMW club (Waseda Maroon and White - named after the university's team colours) with other university old boys.
  • June 1927 - WMW named as Kanto representatives ahead of the Japanese representative preliminary tournament for the 8th Far Eastern Championship Games, after winning through their regional heats. The team goes on to win the national tournament outright, earning the right to represent Japan at the actual Games.
    August - Far Eastern Championship Games held in the city of Shanghai, in the Republic of China. Japan lose their opening game to the hosts, but beat the Philippines 2-1 in their second match to record the country's first ever win on the international stage. After the tournament, WMW embarks on a tour of Manchuria and the Korean peninsula between 4 and 21 September.
  • July 1928 - Publishes "Association Football" (Arusu), a joint work written with Yuzuru Nozu.
  • 1929 - Named as standing director of the JFA (serves until 1931).
  • May 1930 - Serves as manager of the Japanese national team at the 9th Far Eastern Championship Games, held at the Meiji Shrine Outer Garden Stadium. Japan beats the Philippines 7-2 and draws 3-3 with the Republic of China, to share first place with the latter with a record of one win and one draw.
  • 1931 - Named as JFA secretary (chair of the board; serves until 1938), and as board member of the Greater Japan Sports Association (serves until 1933).
  • 1933 - Named as executive director of Greater Japan Sports Association (serves until 1935).
  • June 1936 - Serves as manager of the Japanese national team at the Berlin Olympic Games. Japan come from behind to shock Sweden with a 3-2 win in their opening game, before being beaten 8-0 by Italy in their next match. Thanks largely to players with Waseda connections, Japan has now recorded its first win on the Olympic stage. As a player in 1927 and as manager in 1936, Shigeyoshi Suzuki has had a hand in both of Japan's landmark victories to date.
  • 20 December 1971 - Passes away. After graduation, Suzuki had worked for the Dowa Fire & Marine Insurance Company, and served on the board of directors for the Kyoei Fire & Marine Insurance Company.