Kazuma Watanabe (渡邉 千真, Watanabe Kazuma, born 10 August 1986) is a Japanese footballer who plays for Gamba Osaka in the J1 League. He plays as a centre-forward and has previously had spells with Yokohama F. Marinos, FC Tokyo and Vissel Kobe.
Watanabe playing for FC Tokyo in 2013
|Full name||Kazuma Watanabe|
|Date of birth||10 August 1986|
|Place of birth||Nagasaki, Japan|
|Height||1.82 m (5 ft 11 1⁄2 in)|
|2002–2004||Kunimi High School|
|2009–2011||Yokohama F. Marinos||88||(28)|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 2 December 2018|
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 10 January 2010
Watanabe made his J-League debut for Yokohama F. Marinos against Sanfrecce Hiroshima on 7 March 2009 and scored his first league goal. He kept up his scoring exploits throughout the 2009 season and finished with 13 league goals which broke the previous record for a rookie player set by Shoji Jo in 1994. This earned him the young player of the year award 2009. During his next two seasons in Yokohama, he did not quite hit the heights of his debut year, but he did go on to amass a respectable 15 goals in 54 league games across 2010 and 2011.
Watanabe was transferred to FC Tokyo ahead of the 2012 season and in total he spent 3 seasons in Japan's capital. 2013 was a highlight for him as he bagged 17 goals in 33 league games to help the men in blue and red finish in eighth place in the final standings. However, his other two seasons with Tokyo were rather forgettable, he scored six times in 27 league games during his first year at the Ajinomoto Stadium in 2012 before finishing off his career in the capital by netting just three times in 26 league appearances.
This loss of form in 2014 saw him shipped off to join Vissel Kobe ahead of the 2015 campaign. The move west seemed to do him good as he was immediately back into double figures in terms of goals scored, ending the 2015 season with 10 goals in 28 league appearances. The following year was even better for him personally as he scored 12 goals in 33 league games, which helped Kobe to an impressive seventh place finish in the overall standings in 2016. That would prove to be the pinnacle of his career in the port city as he followed it up with eight goals in 34 league games in 2017 before netting just four times in 19 games in the first half of the 2018 season.
Watanabe joined Gamba Osaka in August 2018 in a deal which saw Gamba forward Shun Nagasawa move in the opposite direction. He made a scoring debut for the men in blue and black with a 27th minute strike to break the deadlock in a league match away to Vegalta Sendai. Unfortunately for him and his team-mates his goal was not enough as Sendai fought back in the second-half to finish as 2–1 winners. He ended the season with three goals in 12 league appearances to help Gamba to a ninth place finish in the final league table.
Watanabe made his full, senior international debut for Japan on 6 January 2010 in a 2011 AFC Asian Cup qualifier against Yemen. He started the match and was replaced in the 85th minute by Kensuke Nagai as Japan came from two goals down to run out 3–2 winners.
Updated as of match played on 2 December 2018.
|Club||Season||League||Emperor's Cup||J. League Cup||AFC||Other1||Total|
|Yokohama F. Marinos||2009||34||13||3||4||8||4||-||-||45||21|
1Includes Japanese Super Cup.
|Japan national team|
- Kazuma Watanabe at J.League (in Japanese)
- "Kazuma Watanabe Soccerway Profile". Soccerway. Retrieved 10 February 2019.
- "Kazuma Watanabe Gamba Osaka Player Profile". Gamba Osaka (in Japanese). Retrieved 11 March 2019.
- McKirdy, Andrew (9 August 2013). "FC Tokyo's Watanabe embracing challenges he faces". Japan Times. Retrieved 9 November 2019.
- "Stats Centre: Kazuma Watanabe Facts". Guardian.co.uk. Archived from the original on 8 October 2011. Retrieved 3 September 2009.
- "Gamba Osaka News – Kazuma Watanabe signing". Gamba Osaka (in Japanese). 13 August 2018. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
- "Vegalta Sendia vs Gamba Osaka 19 August 2018". J.League. 19 August 2018. Retrieved 10 February 2019.
- Nippon Sports Kikaku Publishing inc./日本スポーツ企画出版社, "2017 J1&J2&J3選手名鑑 (NSK MOOK)", 8 February 2017, Japan, ISBN 978-4905411420 (p. 58 out of 289)