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Vietnamese veteran Vinh joins Consadole Sapporo

Kyodo

Vietnamese international Le Cong Vinh was unveiled by Consadole Sapporo as the J. League’s first Southeast Asian player on Tuesday.

The 27-year-old Vinh has 51 caps with 35 goals for Vietnam, and faced Japan at the 2007 Asian Cup in Hanoi where he was heralded as one of the best players of the tournament.

He joins second division Consadole on loan from Vietnamese club Song Lam Nghe An until Jan. 1 in a relatively low key, yet groundbreaking signing for the J. League.

A superstar back home, Vinh, who also had a brief spell with Portugal’s Leixoes in 2009, will be the first Asian outside of the two Koreas and China to play in the J. League in its 20-year history.

“I want to take in as much as I can in Japan,” Vinh said at Sapporo Dome. “I’m looking forward to playing (Yasuhito) Endo of Gamba Osaka.”

“I can play in front of goal. I don’t know how many goals I’ll be able to score, but I’ll do my best.”

Sapporo’s team president Yoshikazu Nonomura said Vinh’s signing falls right in line with the J. League’s recent efforts to gain further exposure in the rest of Asia.

“His arrival means a lot to all of the J. League as we try to reach out in Asia,” Nonomura said. “And great if he helps us on the business side of things.”