To mark the 20th anniversary of the J-League, The Japan Football Association and its various sponsors have invited a team of Italian football legends to take on its own league’s (now retired) stars in what should be more than just a walk in the park.
Roberto Baggio, World Player of the Year in 1993, is perhaps the ‘star’ draw amongst the Italian veterans who will line up on Sunday, June 9, hoping to put on a real show. The ‘divine ponytail’ is now 46, but his 27 goals in 56 games for Italy during the 80s and 90s make him a fans favorite forever with the Azzuri.
Watching the game at the National Stadium could be a good way to celebrate Japan qualifying for the 2014 World Cup, with current star Keisuke Honda’s late penalty against Australia in Saitama having earned them the draw they needed to book their place in Brazil.
The current team might watch the Italian legends in awe – they have a wealth of experience on the global stage, and even boast a World Cup winner among the ranks. Marco Materazzi started the Final in 2006 and scored Italy’s only goal in a 1-1 draw over 90 minutes. He also scored one of the penalties that finally overcame the ten men of France – Zinedine Zidane having famously been sent off for head-butting that man Materazzi’s chest… Quite an eventful game for the defender, could we see a repeat?
Franco Baresi, who is consistently rated one of the top central defenders of all time, leads out the team in his role as player-manager, with quite a selection to choose from, including the man with (in our eyes) the best footballer name ever: Salvatore “Toto” Schillaci.
When: Sunday June 9, kick off 13:15.
Where: National Stadium (Kokuritsu Kyōgijō)
How Much: ¥1,000 – ¥5,000
Official Site (click through)
Buy tickets here. (click through)
J.League Legends vs Italian legends official lineups:
Kenichi Shimokawa, Tetsuji Hashiratani, Akira Narahashi, Toshihide Saito, Makoto Tanaka, Hiroshige Yanagimoto, Akihiro Endo, Toshiya Fujita, Takashi Fukunishi, Akihiro Endo, Yasuto Honda, Kazushi Kimura, Tsuyoshi Kitazawa, Masakiyo Maezono, Atsuhiro Miura, Yoshikazu Nonomura, Ruy Ramos, Masaaki Sawanoboki, Masahiro Fukuda, Tomoyuki Hirase, Shoji Jo, Yoshika Matsubara, Takashi Mizunuma, Nobuhiro Takeda
Gianluca Pagliuca, Franco Baresi, Alessandro Costacurta, Marco Materazzi, Roberto Mussi, Massimo Oddo, Dino Baggio, Angelo Colombo, Luigi Di Biago, Angelo Di Livio, Stefano Eranio, Giuseppe Giannini, Roberto Baggio, Maurizio Ganz, Salvatore “Toto” Schillaci, Christian Vieri