Jubilo Iwata striker Ryoichi Maeda will return to the J-League’s top flight after being sold to FC Tokyo, both clubs announced on Monday evening.
The 33-year-old joins the capital side after spending the entirety of his 15-season career with Jubilo, who failed to earn promotion this year after their first-ever relegation in 2013.
Maeda, who in 2013 made his 300th J1 appearance, won two consecutive Golden Boots in 2009 and 2010. He recorded 17 goals in the J2 this season.
The Kobe native was named the Asian Young Footballer of the Year in 2000, making his senior international debut in 2007. Though he did not represent Japan in the Olympics or World Cup, Maeda became a regular under then-coach Alberto Zaccheroni following three goals in six games for Japan during their 2011 Asian Cup-winning campaign. His last international appearance came in 2013’s Confederations Cup.
“I believe that this decision is best for both myself and Jubilo Iwata,” Maeda said in a statement issued through both clubs. “I hope that I can contribute to FC Tokyo’s victories and help them earn a title.”
The former Nabisco Cup and Emperor’s Cup MVP will join a talented but underachieving Tokyo roster which includes Samurai Blue regular Masato Morishige and rising star Yoshinori Muto. Despite boasting three call-ups to Javier Aguirre’s Asian Cup squad, Tokyo stumbled in the fall to finish in ninth place under first-year coach Massimo Ficcadenti.