Iniesta coup puts J-League on the map, says Perryman

Barcelona legend Andres Iniesta’s decision to join Japan’s Vissel Kobe could make the J-League a serious option for the world’s top footballers, former Shimizu S-Pulse manager Steve Perryman said.

The 34-year-old Spanish World Cup winner, who lifted 32 major trophies at Barca and made over 600 appearances for the Catalan giants, completed a big- money move to Japan on Thursday after bidding a tearful farewell to the Nou Camp last weekend.

Iniesta’s Far East move will have been noted by players who might hitherto have considered China a more lucrative destination, Perryman told AFP in an interview.

“As soon as a top player like Iniesta decides to go to Japan it becomes an option for other people,” said the former Tottenham Hotspur captain, who coached at J-League clubs S-Pulse and Kashiwa Reysol between 1996 to 2002.

“It gives the J-League credibility but it’s about what Iniesta brings with him in terms of his ethos and work ethic,” added Perryman.

“You want people to lead in the right manner and history tells you that this man does things the right way.”

Perryman moved to Japan in 1996 as assistant coach to Argentine Ossie Ardiles at S-Pulse.

The former Spurs teammates briefly crossed swords with Arsene Wenger — then manager at Nagoya Grampus Eight — in a fledgling J-League still buzzing after its launch in 1993 when the likes of Zico and Gary Lineker played out their careers there.

“It was a league that was looking to be led and the timing for both Wenger and Japan was brilliant,” recalled Perryman, who took over as Shimizu manager in 1999.

“Wenger was perfect. He was a winner.”

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