Vissel Kobe

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Vissel Kobe
Vissel Kobe.svg
Full nameVissel Kobe
Nickname(s)Ushi (cows)
Founded1966; 54 years ago (1966)[1]
GroundNoevir Stadium Kobe
Hyōgo-ku, Kōbe, Hyōgo
ChairmanKatsuya Ishiyama
ManagerAtsuhiro Miura
LeagueJ1 League
2019J1 League, 8th of 18
WebsiteClub website
Current season
1995–2004 crest
first home colours, used from 1995 to 2004
Kobe's home stadium

Vissel Kobe (ヴィッセル神戸, Visseru Kōbe) is a Japanese professional football club based in Kobe, Hyōgo Prefecture. The club plays in the J1 League, which is the top tier of football in the country. The team's home stadium is Kobe Wing Stadium, in Hyōgo-ku, though some home matches are played at Kobe Universiade Memorial Stadium in Suma-ku.


The club was founded in 1966 as the semi-professional Kawasaki Steel Soccer Club in Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture.[2] It was first promoted to the Japan Soccer League Division 2 in 1986, and stayed there until the JSL folded in 1992.[2]

In 1995, the city of Kobe reached an agreement with Kawasaki Steel, the parent company, to move the club to Kobe and compete for a spot in the professional J.League as Vissel Kobe. Vissel is a combination of the words "victory" and "vessel", in recognition of Kobe's history as a port city.[2] (Owing to its importance to the city of Kobe, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, parent company of former team patron Kawasaki Steel, remains a Vissel Kobe sponsor. Kawasaki Steel was eventually sold off to become part of JFE Holdings.)

Vissel Kobe began play in 1995 in the Japan Football League, a league below J.League, and the supermarket chain Daiei was slated as the club's primary investor. However, the economic downturn following the Great Hanshin earthquake forced Daiei to pull out and the city of Kobe became responsible for operating the club.

Despite finishing 2nd in the JFL in 1996, Vissel was promoted to the J.League (the champions, Honda FC, refused to abandon their corporate ownership and become a professional club) and began play in the top division of Japanese football in 1997. However, due to mismanagement, including the inability to secure investors and sponsors, Vissel has never been a contender for the league title. In December, 2003, mounting financial losses forced the club to file for bankruptcy protection.

In January 2004, Vissel was sold to Crimson Group, parent company of online merchant Rakuten, whose president is Kobe native Hiroshi Mikitani. Vissel's first signing under the Mikitani regime, İlhan Mansız, who was acquired partly to capitalize on his popularity during the 2002 FIFA World Cup hosted in Korea and Japan, was a massive failure – the Turkish forward played just three matches before leaving the team because of a knee injury. Mikitani also alienated supporters by changing the team uniform colors from black and white stripes to crimson, after his Crimson Group and the color of his alma mater, Harvard Business School. The Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, a baseball team also owned by Rakuten but based in Sendai, wear the same colors.

Vissel finished 11th in the league in 2004, the same position as the previous year, and finished 18th and last place in 2005, resulting in automatic relegation from J.League Division 1, or J1, to J2. During the two-year span, Vissel had five different head coaches. 2006 was Vissel's first season in J2 after nine years in the top division of soccer in Japan. They finished 3rd in the 2006 season and were promoted to J1 after beating Avispa Fukuoka in the promotion/relegation play-offs.

During the period of 2007 to 2011 Vissel finished in the bottom half of the table each year. In 2012 they finished 16th, third from last, and were again relegated to J2. In 2013, Vissel finished in second place, 4 points behind Gamba Osaka, which secured their return to J1 for the 2014 season.

On 6 December 2014, Rakuten Inc. bought the team from the Crimson Group.[3] In May 2018, Vissel signed 2010 FIFA World Cup winner Andrés Iniesta from FC Barcelona.[4] In December 2018 Vissel Kobe managed to sign David Villa from New York City FC the Spanish striker scored 13 goals in 28 games. Alongside Sergi Samper and Andrés Iniesta Villa was the third Spaniard in the team in that season in which the Emperor's Cup was won.

First titles[edit]

On 1 January 2020, first time finalist Vissel beat Kashima Antlers in the 2019 Emperor's Cup final at the recently opened New National Stadium to win the first title in the club history.[5] This was Spanish striker David Villa's last professional match.[6] Vissel also qualified for the 2020 AFC Champions League for the first time. On 8 February 2020, Vissel beat Yokohama F. Marinos to win their first Japanese Super Cup title and respectively their second national title ever.[7]

Record as J.League member[edit]

Season Div. Tms. Pos. Attendance/G J.League Cup Emperor's Cup
1997 J1 17 16 6,567 Group stage 4th round
1998 J1 18 17 7,686 Group stage 3rd round
1999 J1 16 10 7,691 1st round 3rd round
2000 J1 16 13 7,512 2nd round Semi-finals
2001 J1 16 12 13,872 2nd round 4th round
2002 J1 16 14 10,467 Group stage 3rd round
2003 J1 16 13 11,195 Group stage Quarter-finals
2004 J1 16 11 15,735 Group stage 4th round
2005 J1 18 18 14,913 Group stage 4th round
2006 J2 13 3 6,910 3rd round
2007 J1 18 10 12,460 Group stage 5th round
2008 J1 18 10 12,981 Group stage 5th round
2009 J1 18 14 13,068 Group stage 4th round
2010 J1 18 15 12,824 Group stage 3rd round
2011 J1 18 9 13,233 1st round 3rd round
2012 J1 18 16 14,638 Group stage 2nd round
2013 J2 22 2 11,516 3rd round
2014 J1 18 11 15,010 Quarter-finals 2nd round
2015 J1 18 12 16,265 Semi-finals Quarter-finals
2016 J1 18 7 17,018 Quarter-finals Round of 16
2017 J1 18 9 18,272 Quarter-finals Quarter-finals
2018 J1 18 10 21,450 Play-offs 4th round
2019 J1 18 8 21,491 Group stage Winners
  • Tms. = Number of teams
  • Pos. = Position in league
  • Attendance/G = Average league attendance


League history[edit]

  • Chugoku Soccer League: 1978–85 (as Kawasaki Steel Mizushima)
  • Division 2 (Japan Soccer League Div. 2): 1986–91 (Kawasaki Steel Mizushima until 1987; Kawasaki Steel afterwards)
  • Division 3 (Old JFL Div. 2): 1992–93 (as Kawasaki Steel)
  • Division 2 (Old JFL): 1994–96 (Kawasaki Steel 1994; Vissel Kobe since 1995)
  • Division 1 (J.League): 1997–2005
  • Division 2 (J.League Division 2): 2006
  • Division 1 (J.League Division 1): 2007–12
  • Division 2 (J.League Division 2): 2013
  • Division 1 (J1 League): 2014–present

Total (as of 2014): 16 seasons in the top tier, 11 seasons in the second tier, 2 seasons in the third tier and 8 seasons in the Regional Leagues.

Continental record[edit]

Season Competition Round Club Home Away Aggregate
2020 AFC Champions League Group G Malaysia Johor Darul Ta'zim
South Korea Suwon Samsung Bluewings
China Guangzhou Evergrande


Current squad[edit]

As of 01:38, Friday, November 27, 2020 (UTC)[8]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Pos. Nation Player
1 GK Japan JPN Daiya Maekawa
3 DF Japan JPN Hirofumi Watanabe
4 DF Belgium BEL Thomas Vermaelen
5 MF Japan JPN Hotaru Yamaguchi (vice-captain)
6 MF Spain ESP Sergi Samper
8 MF Spain ESP Andrés Iniesta (captain)
9 FW Japan JPN Noriaki Fujimoto
11 FW Japan JPN Kyogo Furuhashi
13 FW Japan JPN Keijiro Ogawa
14 MF Japan JPN Takuya Yasui
17 DF Japan JPN Ryuho Kikuchi
18 GK Japan JPN Hiroki Iikura
19 DF Japan JPN Ryo Hatsuse
21 FW Japan JPN Junya Tanaka
No. Pos. Nation Player
22 DF Japan JPN Daigo Nishi (vice-captain)
23 DF Japan JPN Tetsushi Yamakawa
24 DF Japan JPN Gōtoku Sakai
25 DF Japan JPN Leo Osaki
27 MF Japan JPN Yuta Goke
28 GK Japan JPN Kenshin Yoshimaru
30 GK Japan JPN Genta Ito
31 MF Japan JPN Yuya Nakasaka
33 DF Brazil BRA Dankler
38 MF Japan JPN Daiju Sasaki
41 FW Japan JPN Yutaro Oda
44 DF Japan JPN So Fujitani
49 FW Brazil BRA Douglas

Out on loan[edit]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Pos. Nation Player
DF Japan JPN Yuki Kobayashi (at Yokohama FC)
FW Japan JPN Asahi Masuyama (at Avispa Fukuoka)


Manager Nat. Tenure
Stuart Baxter  Scotland 1997
Hiroshi Kato  Japan 1997
Benito Floro  Spain 1998
Harumi Kori  Japan 1998
Ryoichi Kawakatsu  Japan 1999–02
Hiroshi Matsuda  Japan Jan 2002 – Dec 02
Hiroshi Soejima  Japan 2003
Ivan Hašek  Czech Republic Jan 2003 – Dec 04
Hiroshi Kato  Japan 2004
Hideki Matsunaga  Japan Jan 2005 – April 5
Émerson Leão  Brazil May 2005 – June 5
Pavel Řehák  Czech Republic 2005
Stuart Baxter  Scotland Jan 2006 – Dec 06
Hiroshi Matsuda  Japan Jan 2007 – Dec 08
Caio Júnior  Brazil Dec 2008 – June 9
Masahiro Wada (interim)  Japan July 2009 – Aug 09
Toshiya Miura  Japan Aug 2009 – Sept 10
Masahiro Wada  Japan Sept 2010 – April 12
Ryo Adachi (interim)  Japan April 2012 – May 12
Akira Nishino  Japan May 22, 2012 – Nov 8, 2012
Ryo Adachi (interim)  Japan Nov 9, 2012 – Dec 31, 2012
Ryo Adachi  Japan Jan 1, 2013 – Dec 11, 2014
Nelsinho Baptista  Brazil Dec 12, 2014 – Aug 16, 2017
Takayuki Yoshida  Japan Aug 16, 2017 – Sep 16, 2018
Kentaro Hayashi (interim)  Japan Sep 17, 2017 – Oct 4, 2018
Juan Manuel Lillo  Spain Oct 5, 2018 – April 17, 2019
Takayuki Yoshida   Japan April 17, 2019 – Jun 8, 2019
Thorsten Fink  Germany Jun 8, 2019 – Sep 22, 2020
Atsuhiro Miura[9]  Japan Sep 24, 2020 –

Affiliated clubs[edit]


  1. ^ "CLUBS & PLAYERS : J.LEAGUE.JP". Retrieved 15 October 2018.
  2. ^ a b c Jリーグ – ヴィッセル神戸 [J.League – Vissel Kobe] (in Japanese). J.League. Archived from the original on 3 December 2013. Retrieved 29 November 2013.
  3. ^ "Rakuten Acquires Football Club Vissel Kobe and Joins the J-League". Rakuten Official Website.
  4. ^ "Iniesta signs with Japan's Vissel Kobe". 24 May 2018. Retrieved 15 October 2018.
  5. ^ "「天皇杯 JFA 第99回全日本サッカー選手権大会」優勝のお知らせ" (in Japanese). Vissel Kobe. 1 January 2020. Retrieved 1 January 2020.
  6. ^ "Andres Iniesta leads Vissel Kobe to Emperor's Cup glory as David Villa ends career". Daily Mirror. 1 January 2020. Retrieved 1 January 2020.
  7. ^ "Vissel Kobe win Japanese Super Cup after farcical shootout". Eurosport. 2020-02-08. Retrieved 2020-02-09.
  8. ^ "VISSEL KOBE OFFICIAL WEB SITE : Squad details". Retrieved 13 April 2020.
  9. ^ NEWS, KYODO. "Football: Former Japan midfielder Atsuhiro Miura named Vissel Kobe boss". Kyodo News+.
  10. ^ "J-League's Vissel Kobe announces business partnership with Thailand's Chonburi FC". Mar 30, 2012. Retrieved November 29, 2013.

External links[edit]