Yasuo Manaka

Position: FW
Born: 31-Jan-1971
Height/Weight: 170/72
Birthplace: Ibaraki
Previous Teams: Iwai Jr.High, Iwai Nishi HS, Kashima Antlers, Cerezo Osaka, Sanfrecce Hiroshima, Cerezo Osaka
Appearances (J1/J2): 175/42 Goals: 34/15
First Appearance: 22-May-1993 Kashima Antlers - vs - Shimizu S-Pulse (at Kusanagi Stadium)
First Goal : 14-Aug-1993 Kashima Antlers - vs - Yokohama Flugels (at Kashima Stadium)


Yasuo Manaka spent his entire career as an offensive substitute -- the "first man off the bench", responsible for creating instant offence at a moment's notice, with little chance to prepare or "get into the flow" of a match. While this role limited his numbers in terms of career appearances and goals, probably no player in league history has ever excelled in this unique role in the way that Manaka did.

Manaka was something of a late bloomer, as well, spending several seasons on the bench of the Kashima Antlers, and making only brief appearances late in matches. By 1998, he was already 27 years old and had yet to play in his 100th league match. But even early in his career, Manaka had the ability to produce fireworks within moments of coming onto the pitch.The numbers he compiled over six seasons at Kashima (nine, if you include the JSL era) are not overly impressive. But statistics are often deceptive. Not only did Manaka have two league championship rings on his fingers by the end of his Antlers career, but he also had developed a reputation as a clutch player in crucial situations. For example, in 1996 Manaka scored only five goals all season. But all five of them were the match-winning tally, and four were "golden goals", scored in extra time.

It was after his mid-career move to Cerezo Osaka that Manaka truly came into his own as a creater of "instant offence". Once again, his role on the team was limited. He was usually the first off the bench, or the first to get the hook. But Manaka became a legend in Osaka for his ability to come onto the pitch and bring down sudden bolts of lightning. The highlight of his career -- and the untouchable benchmark for success as a late offensive substitute -- came on July 14, 2001, in a match against Kashiwa Reysol.

Cerezo were down 0-2 with about 15 minutes left to play, and had just won a free kick at midfield. Manaka was brought on as play resumed. The second he stepped onto the field of play, Manaka put his head down and began sprinting furiously for goal. Teammate Hiroaki Morishima spotted him instantly and sent a towering free kick towards the left edge of the box. The ball bounded once, and as it came down a second time, Manaka met it with a thundering volley. The ball flew wide, but in less than five seconds of playing time, Manaka had his first shot. Within two minutes, he was on the scoreboard, poking home a deflected ball in the Reysol box.

But the show was just getting started. Reysol put the ball back in play, and as soon as his team won possession, Manaka was off once more. Again, a long lead pass found him, and he barrelled through the defence to drive another shot into the nylon. The Reysol players were blown away, and suddenly seemed unable to do anything right. Again Cerezo broke up their attack and within seconds of the restart, they were again launched a galloping counterattack.

Exactly four minutes and 27 seconds after taking the field, Manaka finished off the third strike of the day, setting a record (at the time) for the fastest hat trick in history. This performance, as a substitute, still stands as the mark of excellence for a player off the bench in any league in the world!

Manaka would continue to provide this sort of excitement for another three years, but at the end of 2004, following a season with J2 strugglers Yokohama FC, Manaka finally hung up his cleats and entered retirement. But the excitement he provided in the late climaxes of matches throughout his career made him one of the most valuable 12th men in J.League history.


Photo Year Team Uniform # League Matches Cup Matches
Caps Goals Caps Goals
- 1989-90 Sumitomo (JSL) - - - - -
- 1990-91 Sumitomo (JSL) - - - - -
- 1991-92 Sumitomo (JSL) - - - - -
- 1993 Kashima Antlers 12 3 3 1
- 1994 Kashima Antlers 8 0 1 0
- 1995 Kashima Antlers 23 3 3 0
- 1996 Kashima Antlers 21 5 7 0
- 1997 Kashima Antlers 12 4 4 0
- 1998 Kashima Antlers 21 6 7 1
1999 Cerezo Osaka 27 5 6 0
2000 Cerezo Osaka 17 2 7 0
2001 Cerezo Osaka 24 5 5 2
2002 Cerezo Osaka 28 13 3 0
2003- Cerezo Osaka 10 1 2 0
- -2003 Sanfrecce Hiroshima 14 2 3 1
2004- Sanfrecce Hiroshima 6 0 1 0
- -2004 Yokohama FC   13 1 1 0
- TOTAL 236 50 54 5