2020.07.06

Striker Jay Bothroyd lives calmly in Hokkaido. “Japan is lovely. sometimes I get confused though.”

  • text by Yoichi Igawa
  • photo by Matsuoka Kenzaburo

After four-and-a-half years in Japan, the 37 year-old striker is regarded as the most successful English player ever in the J-League, both in name and in reality. Having been capped once for the national team of the birthplace of football, he has scored far more in the league than the English legend, Gary Lineker.

Bothroyd is still netting at a high rate, even at his age. In his fifth season in Japan, the veteran attacker's tally is eight goals at the time of writing (after Matchday 25th). Although that leaves him 13th in the J1 goal rankings, his minutes-per-goal ratio is 123, the third highest in the division. Furthermore, his average tally over the four seasons including this one is in double figures. Bothroyd is one of the most consistent strikers in recent years in the J1 league.

But his first club was Jubilo Iwata, who then played in the Japanese second division, J2. Why did he choose that team?

"When I was at Queens Park Rangers and we did a pre-season tour to Malaysia. Before that, I didn't really have experience in Asian football and hadn't seen the stadiums and so on. Of course that's not Japan but it gave me a sense that playing in Asia might be something that I'd be tempted to do that in the future. The facilities were better than I had thought, and the fans seemed to be really into football, very passionate about it."

Then, in 2014, he moved to Thailand to play for Muangthong United. Things there, however, were far from straightforward.