Tottenham Hotspur legend Osvaldo Ardiles believes Asian football will improve and take off if other Asian countries can replicate the successful model of the J-League.
Speaking at the Tottenham Hotspur Legends’ Malaysia Tour 2014 press conference in Kuala Lumpur, the 1978 World Cup winner praised Japan’s professional league for turning the country into an Asian football powerhouse.
“If you remember Japan from 20-25 years ago, you will know that they were almost non-existent in the eyes of the football world,” said ‘Ossie’, who previously managed Japanese sides Shimizu S-Pulse, Yokohama F. Marinos, Tokyo Verdy and FC Machida Zelvia.
“Back then, they hardly won anything [on the international scene] or played in the World Cup.
“What changed all that was the formation of the professional football league, the J-League.
“The league has been such a great success that it is not a coincidence that Japan have started to win the AFC Asian Cup and qualify for the World Cup since then.
“A lot of their players, who used to play inside the country only because they were not good enough, are now playing in Europe, which goes on to show how much they have improved over the years.
“I believe if all countries in Asia follow their examples, they will be successful as well.”
Since the inception of the J-League in 1993, the Samurai Blue have made five straight World Cup finals appearances and lifted the Asian Cup three times.comments