J2 League is always the same old, crazy long tournament which enables us to live the most surprising situations of all. Despite facing a 42 games-path, many tournaments have been decided on the last match. Just think about 2018 season: after being on top for a long time, both Matsumoto Yamaga and Oita Trinita – now ready to engage in J1 football, again – risked to lose it all on the final day.
And you don’t have to go so back in time to find similar situations: in 2016, Matsumoto stumbled in Machida to miss promotion and then be knocked out by Fagiano Okayama in the play-offs, while in 2015 Avispa almost snatched a direct promotion, only to discover that Jubilo Iwata won in Oita on the last second, taking the spot for themselves.
With this kind of cult following and last-gasp emotions, you found heroes along the way. Koji Honma is still the all-time leader in terms of games played in J2, while Masashi Oguro – confirmed in Tochigi for 2019 season – not only became the all-time scorer, but also overcame the 100-goals mark in 2018. And you could mention many other names, like Yuki Nakashima, Koichi Sato, Kazumasa Uesato, Takayuki Fukayama.
Among them, there’s a footballer who played more than 200 games in J2 and scored 57 goals. He was tipped a J1 player and he even won a title with Kashiwa Reysol, but then he mostly played in the second tier, becoming one of the most recognizable faces due to his celebrations and scoring 20+ goals in the last couple of seasons.
His name is Ryohei Hayashi and you’ll never forget why he’s making waves in J2 League.
What’s the deal?
Launched by Tokyo Verdy in 2009, Hayashi then switched to Kashiwa Reysol just after the Chiba-based club got relegated. Many probably didn’t remember this, but he scored 10 goals in 24 games to let Kashiwa go back to J1. He only scored once in 2011, but his goal against Avispa Fukuoka was enough to grant a 3-2 win on Matchday 22.
Hayashi played just one more season of J1, in 2015, after guiding Montedio Yamagata to a unexpected promotion, clinched this time through the play-offs. He scored just two goals in first division, but those were fundamental to snatch two away draws against Shimizu S-Pulse and Albirex Niigata. In J2, instead, Hayashi has a recent history of rebirth.
This might be tied to his digits – the striker had three seasons in double digits, last in 2017 with Mito HollyHock –, but he seems to have reached a decent reputation in this tier. Especially in his tandem season with Daizen Maeda, he had some fun. And that’s where the celebration copycatting started.
We opted to run down a Top Classic.
A retrospective: Top 5
5. As Paulo Dybala
4. As Batefimi Gomis
3. As James Harden
2. As Blaise Matuidi
1, As Antoine Griezmann
Now what? We must give relevancy to two different aspects.
First of all, other celebrations to copycat: we’ll just give some advices to the Tokyo Verdy striker. Who knows, they might be helpful.
5. As Daniel Sturridge
4. As Mariusz Stepinski
3. As Paul Aguilar
2. As Fabrizio Cacciatore
1. As Mark Bresciano
And what about the pitch? Tokyo Verdy has lost a lot of personnel, so it’s going to be hard to repeat the results obtained under Miguel Angel Lotina. Yet, the appointment of Gary White is encouraging. And who knows? With Douglas Vieira and Alan Pinheiro leaving for Sanfrecce Hiroshima and JEF United Chiba, Hayashi might be a good partner for Leandro and maybe snatch another double digits of goals.
We’ll leave it up to you, Ryohei. Fire it up.