Club History

The Pre-history of Kashima Antlers
From Amateur to Professional Pursuing ‘FOOTBALL DREAM’
In 1989 the Japan Soccer League (JSL) and Japan Football Association (JFA) started the process to introduce a professional football league in Japan – the J.League. The following June, 20 teams had applied to participate, far more than the eight slots available. After an initial hearing the list was reduced to 14 teams. At that time the predecessor to Kashima Antlers, Sumitomo Metal Industries, was competing in the second division of the JSL and the lowest ranked of the applicants. Head of the establishment preparation committee, Saburo Kawabuchi, said it was 99.9999% impossible that Kashima would be able to participate as a member in the inaugural season.

However, with a firm resolution that, ‘there would be no point if we are not a member from the first year’ the staff tasked with implementing the proposal refused to give up. Challenges were faced down one after another, and problems were eliminated one at a time. Then, on 14 February 1991, the league announced that 10 teams would be included from the initial season and that Kashima had made the list, with the previously uncertain Kawabuchi making the recommendation that, “a team like Kashima is necessary”.

Becoming a founding member was like a miracle for the team and the surrounding area, but there still remained the uphill task of fulfilling the promise made to Kawabuchi that the club would construct Japan’s first football-specific stadium with a roof and capacity of 15,000. In order to honour that pledge construction was carried out at breakneck speed, and the work was completed in such a short space of time that it was said that, ‘It couldn’t have been finished in time if a steady rain had come’.

Next, to complete the evolution from amateur team to professional football club ‘God’ arrived, with Zico descending in May 1991. After that, in order to achieve full professional status, Kashima Antlers FC Ltd. was born. That was the epitome of 'FOOTBALL DREAM', created by a mixture of miracle and the efforts of many people.
Former stadium under construction Clubhouse under construction
Italy training camp, the start of Football Dream Zico scores a hat-trick on J.League’s opening day
Kashima Antlers: The tracks to birth
1991FebSelected as one of the 10 participating teams in the professional football league
 MaySigning of ‘God’ Zico / Public appeal for team name opened
 JulProfessional league name confirmed as J.League / Club name decided as Kashima Antlers
 OctKashima Antlers Football Club established
 NovJapan Professional Football League (J.League) established
1992MarTeam logo and emblem announced / Work begins on stadium and clubhouse
 AprMasakatsu Miyamoto appointed as manager / Fan club recruitment begins
 MayTeam mascot announced
1993JanClubhouse and training ground completed
 MarKashima Soccer Stadium completed
 MayKashima Soccer Stadium Completion Memorial game v. Fluminense / J.League begins with a 5-0 home win over Nagoya thanks to a Zico hat-trick
The History of Kashima Antlers
The Pride of Being Japan’s Most Decorated Team Challenging to Surpass Previous Achievements
Since winning our first J.League title in 1996, Kashima Antlers have won the three biggest domestic championships 19 times. If concentrated periods of success are considered as ‘golden ages’ then the club can be said to have had three. The first was in the three years between the first J.League triumph in 1996 and 1998. With Brazilian players such as Jorginho playing pivotal roles, four trophies were claimed – two J.Leagues, one Emperor’s Cup, and one Yamazaki Nabisco Cup.

The second golden age came under the guidance of Toninho Cerezo, who in 2000, his first year in charge, led the club to the first ‘treble’ since the J.League was launched. This time it was Japanese players like Yutaka Akita and Yasuto Honda taking the lead, while youngsters like Mitsuo Ogasawara and Koji Nakata also emerged. In the three years up until 2002 five more titles were picked up: two J.Leagues, one Emperor’s Cup, and two Yamazaki Nabisco Cups.

Nine trophies had been won in just six years between 1996 and 2002, but after that the club endured a barren four years. It was Oswaldo Oliveira who finally delivered the long-awaited 10th crown. On the final day of the 2007 campaign the club completed a dramatic comeback to pick up its first league title in six years, also going on to win the Emperor’s Cup as well. That marked the start of a third golden age as the team carved its name into history with an unprecedented three consecutive J.League championships, as well as two more Emperor’s Cups and another Yamazaki Nabisco Cup.

Since then a further two Yamazaki Nabisco Cups were collected (2012 and 2015), before a first J.League title in seven years – and eighth overall – was secured under Masatada Ishii in 2016, as Antlers took part in the post-season ‘Championship’ as first stage winners and overcame Kawasaki Frontale and Urawa Reds. That team included players with experience of the second golden age such as Ogasawara and Hitoshi Sogahata, the likes of Mu Kanazaki, Daigo Nishi, and Yasushi Endo, who developed at the heart of the team, while Gaku Shibasaki, Shoma Doi, and Gen Shoji also grew in strength, and went on to create even more history as it became the first Asian team to make it to the final of the FIFA Club World Cup on the club’s first appearance in the competition. In the final Antlers took Real Madrid all the way to extra time on the way to a runners-up finish, before rounding off the season with a double thanks to another Emperor’s Cup triumph.

The 2017 season started with the positive acquisitions of proven talents like Leo Silva, Pedro Junior, and Kwon Sun-tae as the club targeted its much coveted first AFC Champions League trophy and back- to-back league titles. However the ACL campaign ended at the Round of 16 stage, and on the final day of the league season the team let the title slip through its grasp to end up empty handed. Despite that, ‘FOOTBALL DREAM’ doesn’t end here. In 2018 Antlers will challenge again under the continued guidance of Go Oiwa. The likes of Shoji, Naomichi Ueda, and Kento Misao won’t forget the pain of missing out on the title at the very end of last season. Atsuto Uchida has also returned after eight years in Germany. The club will show its true strength again as it looks to reclaim the J.League title and also achieve glory in Asia, doing all we can to surpass past achievements.
  • Domestic titles
    19 titles
  • J.League8 times
  • Yamazaki Nabisco Cup(now YBC Levin Cup)6 times
  • Emperor's Cup5 times
(as of January 2018)
 Head CoachTitles
1991Masakatsu Miyamoto 
1996Joao CarlosJ.LEAGUE
1997Yamazaki Nabisco Cup(now YBC Levin Cup)
Emperor's Cup
1999Ze Mario 
2000Toninho CerezoJ.LEAGUE
Yamazaki Nabisco Cup(now YBC Levin Cup)
Emperor's Cup
2002Yamazaki Nabisco Cup(now YBC Levin Cup)
2006Paulo Autuori 
2007Oswaldo OliveiraJ.LEAGUE
Emperor's Cup
2010Emperor's Cup
2011Yamazaki Nabisco Cup(now YBC Levin Cup)
2012JorginhoYamazaki Nabisco Cup(now YBC Levin Cup)
2013Toninho Cerezo 
2015 Yamazaki Nabisco Cup(now YBC Levin Cup)
2016Masatada IshiiJ.LEAGUE
Emperor's Cup
Go Oiwa