Japan Football Hall of Fame

JFA Hall of Fame Inductee

Special Selection: 12 th Japan Football Hall of Fame Inductee in 2015
Born in Hiroshima on 19 September 1939

ONITAKE Kenji started to play football at a junior high school attached to the Hiroshima University. After graduated from a high school attached to the Hiroshima University, he joined a football club at the Waseda University. During his university years, he contributed for the team to win the Kanto University League twice and to become the champion of The East-West University Championship once.

In 1962, he joined Yanmar Diesel, the predecessor of Cerezo Osaka and became the captain of its football team during the first and the second years of the Japan Soccer League (JSL) started in 1965. For the third season, he was appointed as a head coach of the team. He is recorded as the winningest coach as he won 93 JSL matches out of 174 for the period from 1967 to 1977 who created a football club with a striking ability by maximising the talent of legendary striker KAMAMOTO Kunishige and each player.

He led the team to the first-ever title of The Emperor’s Cup in 1968 and to the champion of the JSL for the first time in 1971. He also led the team to the title of the JSL and the Emperor’s Cup three times in total. He developed a golden era of Yanmar while assimilating Brazilian players starting with YOSHIMURA Nelson into the team and creating a new style of football based on individual skills. This became one of the key catalysts in modern football in Japan. For example, the ball movements around the backline while seeking for attacking chances were new to the football in Japan at the time.

He was appointed as the Chief of Professional Football Development at Yanmar in 1992 and as the Managing Director of Cerezo Osaka in 1993. He accomplished a professionalisation of the team and its participation to the J.League.

He was appointed as the Senior Member of Executive Committee of J.League in 2004. In 2006, he was inaugurated as the third J.League Chairman. He launched the ACL Support Project to improve the level of football in the J.League, developed the U-13 League to foster activities of the academy and implemented “Eleven Million Project” to increase number of attendances and to improve the quality of facilities.

From 2011 to 2014, he exerted himself for the development of football in Kansai area as the president of the Osaka Football Association.
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Through football, we realise the full benefits that sports can bring to our lives
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