|Full name||Yasuhiko Okudera|
|Date of birth||12 March 1952|
|Place of birth||Kazuno, Akita, Japan|
|Height||1.77 m (5 ft 9 1⁄2 in)|
|1996||JEF United Ichihara|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
Yasuhiko Okudera (奥寺 康彦 Okudera Yasuhiko, born 12 March 1952) is a former Japanese football player and manager. He is currently the president of J2 League club Yokohama FC and was formerly the president of English club Plymouth Argyle. Okudera was the first Japanese footballer to play professionally in Europe, as well as being the first Asian football player to score in the European Cup, while playing for Köln in the 1979 semi-final match against Nottingham Forest and made 32 appearances – scoring nine goals – with the Japanese national team.
Okudera began his playing career in 1970 as an employee of Furukawa Electric, whose soccer team played in the corporate Japan Soccer League, the top flight league in Japan at the time. In 1976, the club won the champions at Japan Soccer League and Emperor's Cup and he was elected Best Eleven. In May 1977, the club also won 1977 JSL Cup.
In the summer of 1977, during the team's trip to Germany, he was spotted by coach Hennes Weisweiler of Bundesliga club Köln. After being offered a contract by Köln he joined the club in July 1977. Okudera made his debut on 5 October 1977, becoming the first Japanese player to play top flight football in Europe, and Köln won the Bundesliga title that year.
After Weisweiler left Cologne during the 1980–81 season, Okudera joined second division Hertha BSC. Hertha missed promotion to the first division losing a decisive match against Werder Bremen. He then joined the newly promoted Werder Bremen, whose coach Otto Rehhagel saw his play when the two sides met and offered a contract. Under Rehhagel, he started playing as an attacking full-back instead of as a winger and finished second in the league three times between 1981–82 and 1985–86 with Bremen.
In the summer of 1986, Okudera returned to his old Japanese club, Furukuwa Electric and became one of the first recognized professional players in JSL. He ended his German career with 234 appearances and 26 goals. He retired as a player in 1988.
National team career
On July 12, 1972, Okudera debuted for Japan national team against Khmer. He played at 1976 Asian Cup qualification and 1978 World Cup qualification until 1977. While he played in Germany, he was not elected Japan national team from 1977 to 1986. In September 1986, when he was 34 years old, he returned to Japan and was elected Japan for 1986 Asian Games. In 1987, he also played at 1988 Summer Olympics qualification. This qualification was his last game for Japan. He played 32 games and scored 9 goals for Japan until 1987.
Okudera's return home spurred the professionalization of the Japanese game, which had been stuck in amateur play for decades. He was the first native-born professional player in his home league, as before only foreigners (usually Brazilians) were paid strictly to play football by the companies.
After the J1 League started play in 1993, he served as the president and manager of Furukawa, which had become JEF United Ichihara with limited success. In 1998, he joined his Köln teammate Pierre Littbarski and helped form Yokohama FC. With Okudera as president and Littbarski the manager, Yokohama climbed up the ranks from the lower-tier Japan Football League and promoted to the J1 League in December 2006.
On 5 December 2003, Okudera and former South Korean star Cha Bum-kun were the Asian representatives at the preliminary draw, which determined the groupings for the qualifying matches for the 2006 World Cup.
On 20 June 2008, Okudera was appointed President of the Football League Championship side Plymouth Argyle tasked with playing a global ambassador role and further strengthening the club's profile in Asia. Since this appointment Argyle have suffered a relegation and serious financial difficulties. Okudera was replaced in his role by former Fans Trust leader Chris Webb, who had played a key part in rescuing Argyle from liquidation.
|Club performance||League||Cup||League Cup||Continental||Total|
|Japan||League||Emperor's Cup||League Cup||Asia||Total|
|1970||Furukawa Electric||JSL Division 1||7||3|
|Japan||League||Emperor's Cup||League Cup||Asia||Total|
|1986/87||Furukawa Electric||JSL Division 1||21||2|
National team statistics
|Japan national team|
|JEF United Ichihara||1996||1996||30||13||0||17||43.33|
Honors and awards
- Japan Soccer League Champions: 1976
- Emperor's Cup Champions: 1976
- Japanese Super Cup Champions: 1977
- Bundesliga Champions: 1977–78
- Bundesliga Runners-up: 1982–83, 1984–85, 1985–86
- DFB-Pokal Champions: 1977–78
- DFB-Pokal Runners-up: 1979–80
- European Cup Semi-finals: 1978–79
- Asian Club Championship Champions: 1986–87
- Pestabola Merdeka runners-ups: 1976
- Japan Soccer League Best Eleven: 1976, 1986–87
- Japan Football Hall of Fame: 2012
- Asian Football Hall of Fame: 2014
- "OKUDERA Yasuhiko". Japan National Football Team Database. Retrieved 13 July 2013.
- "Argyle appoint Japanese president". BBC. 20 June 2008. Retrieved 24 June 2008.
- "Yasuhiko Okudera: I learnt by playing abroad". FIFA. 22 December 2005. Retrieved 26 December 2012.
- Klemm, Hans-Günter (12 March 2017). "Der Pionier Okudera wird 65 Jahre alt". kicker Online (in German). Retrieved 12 March 2017.
- Japan National Football Team Database
- "Chris Webb named Argyle president". Plymouth Argyle F.C. 8 November 2011. Retrieved 8 November 2011.
- J.League Data Site(in Japanese)