In the build-up to our upcoming pre-season visit to Japan, we take a look at one of the country’s most passionate Chelsea supporters and find out how he became a true Blue.
A honeymoon visit to London 13 years ago saw Japanese football fan Tetsuro Sato develop a passion for Chelsea that continues to burn strongly to this day.The Tokyo native had been an avid viewer of English football for a few years before his trip to London in October 2006 although he did not support a team at the time.‘Japanese cable TV started to broadcast English Premier League games around 2000 and I really enjoyed watching them because it was such a high-tempo game they played,’ explains the 46-year-old who is now chairman of the Chelsea FC Supporters Club Tokyo.‘But I did not support any football club in particular before I went to London on my honeymoon in 2006.’A trip to Stamford Bridge to watch the Blues face Portsmouth in a Premier League match would have a profound impact on Sato.Buoyed by the enthusiasm of the supporters at the Bridge and captivated by the passion shown by the players on the pitch during the 2-1 win over Pompey, he became a fully committed Chelsea fan.‘I was really impressed by the great attitude of the Chelsea player, right from the warm ups and throughout the game, especially John Terry, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba,’ he recalls.
He brought his passion for the Blues back with him to Japan, becoming a member of the country’s official Chelsea FC Supporters Club and communicating online with fellow Blues fans.However, one of the main challenges of the original Japanese Supporters Club was that its members were spread through the country and did not meet up regularly to watch live matches together.So when Chelsea reached the Champions League final in 2012, a group of devoted Blues fans decided to get together to watch the big match against Bayern Munich.‘There were about 70 Japanese supporters who watched the live game together in Tokyo,’ says Sato.‘It was such a big match and everybody was really excited even though it was so late at night in Japan. When Drogba scored the winning penalty at about 7am, we all celebrated like crazy.’
As important as the win was the camaraderie those fans enjoyed on that glorious night and their desire to watch more games together led to the formation of the country’s second official Supporters Club in the Japanese capital.‘Our club was officially founded on 19 May 2012 and we now have about 170 members,’ says Sato.‘We try to get together as often as possible to watch games at a sports pub called ONCE at Naka-meguro.‘However, because of the time difference between Tokyo and London, we usually gather for the games kicking off at lunch time in the UK, which is about 10pm here or for big matches like the recent Europa League final.’For Sato, the upcoming pre-season matches against Kawasaki Frontale in Yokohama and Barcelona in Saitama promise just as much excitement and he is eagerly looking forward to meeting up with fellow fans and cheering on the Blues together.‘I’ve already got my tickets for both games and I can hardly wait to watching them play under our new manager!’ he adds.
For ticket information on Chelsea’s pre-season games in Japan, please click here.