Just over five years ago, Yokohama F. Marinos showed their faith in then-22-year-old Teruhito Nakagawa when they announced they would sign the Senshu University attacker to a pro contract, less than two weeks after he had severely damaged his right knee on the pitch.

Following a long rehabilitation period and a pair of half-season loans to second-division clubs, that faith has paid off in a big way as Nakagawa emerged as a key figure in the port city club's dramatic run to the J. League first-division championship.

"I wanted to win the title by scoring a goal, but I'm just glad I was able to repay Marinos (for their confidence) by winning the league," Nakagawa said on Saturday after the team clinched the J1 crown with a 3-0 victory over FC Tokyo.