Kenya: Jleague Hails Olunga As Japanese Football Legend

16 January 2021

Japan Professional Football League (J.League) Saturday paid glowing tribute to 2020 J1 League Player of the Year Michael Olunga who moved to Qatar Stars League side Al Duhail on Tuesday.

In an article on its website dedicated to the Kenyan international striker, J.League said Olunga's 2020 season will never forgotten in Japan.

Titled "Farewell, Michael Olunga: The Engineer became a legend at Kashiwa Reysol as the world watched on", J.League said Olunga's time at Kashiwa Reysol was a dream.

"His 2020 season was unlike any other. He led the J.League in goals, nearly lapping the field and capturing a well-deserved Most Valuable Player award," began the tribute.

J.League continued, "Olunga's dominance at the front of the Kashiwa Reysol attack made him a hero in Japan, but his spectacular play also resonated all over the globe, and especially in his home country of Kenya."

Olunga's time at Kashiwa Reysol has come to an end, with the Kenyan leaving for Al-Duhail after the 2020 season, but he will never be forgotten in the J.League, noted J.League.

It signed off the moving tribute by saying, "From The Engineer's 27-goal onslaught in the 2019 Meiji Yasuda J2 League to lead the Kashiwa Reysol's title-winning season and promotion, to the 28 times he found the goal in 2020 in one of the most remarkable campaigns the top flight has ever seen. Olunga wrote himself into the book of J.League legends."

The article published by J.League on Friday was accompanied with a photo of Olunga clapping in a match that was probably his last for Coach Nelsinho's side.

It also had two videos showing him scoring freely and receiving the Best Player of the Year and Golden Boot awards as well as support from his fan base in Lucky Summer, Babadogo Grounds and Kariadudu in Nairobi.

J.League's praises come a few days after the 26-year-old Olunga penned a touching goodbye message to Kashiwa Reysol accompanied with a video of him saying he hopes to re-unite with the side someday.

In his last year of the two-and-a-half-year stay in Kashiwa; Olunga also became the first African player to bag the Player of the Year award and the second from Kashiwa after Leandro Domingues in 2011.

The Brazilian netted 15 goals, but was the inspiration behind Kashiwa's J1 League title triumph.

Olunga completed the 2020 J1 League 10 goals ahead of his closest rival Brazilian Everaldo of Kashima Antlers as Kashiwa marked their return to the big stage with a seventh-place finish.

No other man has scored the most goals in a single match in Japan like Olunga did in 2019. He scored eight goals as Kashiwa ran over Kyoto Sanga 13-1 in their season-ending J2 League match.

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