This site has the tagline of ‘the Leicester fan in Japan’ but rarely mentions anything to do with the team I’m exiled from. That’s not really going to change in this article but there are two vague references!
The inaugral J-League kicked off in 1992 with a certain Leicester old boy among the ranks of Nagoya Grampus Eight. Gary Lineker was my hero when I started watching Leicester City back in the early 1980’s and I followed his career closely after that so his move to Japan was the first thing I knew about football in the land of the rising sun.
For some strange reason I really wanted to see this team when I came to Japan and I did see them in October 2004 but they were in opposition to my then-newly inherited Kashiwa Reysol team.
This time they were the opposition to Urawa Reds and yet again I couldn’t watch the game with their fans. J-League games tend to suck and this one was no exception as it ended 0-0 with typical piss-poor finishing in front of goal from both teams.
However, it was nice to visit the stadium which was built especially for the 2002 World Cup and with its soaring triangular sails was much more aesthetically pleasing than your average identikit English stadium. I could even see Mount Fuji at sunset in the distance of the stadium corner and this state of the art stadium even included seats with armrests.
The 63,700 capacity stadium was host for four World cup games including the Semi Final between Brazil and Turkey (featuring then-Leicester player Muzzy Izzet whose name inspired my hotmail address), the 2-2 draw between Japan and Belgium and England’s 1-1 draw with Sweden.