Japan is a land of the rising sun, and Ado Onaiwu seems to have become the latest addition to its bright future in football.
Ado Onaiwu, the 27-year-old striker for Ligue 1 club Toulouse and the Japan national team, has been making waves in the football world with his impressive skills and goal-scoring prowess.
Born in Kamikawa, Saitama, Japan, to a Japanese mother and a Nigerian father, Onaiwu represents the multicultural heritage of modern Japan.
Here Soccernet.ng‘s Imhons Erons shines the light on one of Nigeria’s countless colourful contributions to the beautiful game.
Early Career: From Shochi Fukaya High School to JEF United Chiba
Onaiwu began his football journey at Shochi Fukaya High School, where he honed his skills and showcased his potential as a striker. After completing high school, he joined JEF United Chiba, a professional football club based in Chiba Prefecture, Japan.
During his time at JEF United Chiba from 2014 to 2016, Onaiwu played 62 matches and scored ten goals. The youngster was so exceptional that he was invited to the Japanese u-19 national team and subsequently to the u-23.
His impressive performances also caught the attention of Urawa Red Diamonds, one of the most successful football clubs in Japan.
Rise to Fame: Urawa Red Diamonds, Renofa Yamaguchi, and Oita Trinita
Onaiwu joined Urawa Red Diamonds in 2017 and made his J1 League debut the same year.
However, following stiff competition for limited first-team spaces, the young striker was loaned to Renofa Yamaguchi in 2018.
During his loan spell, he played 42 matches and scored 22 goals, becoming one of the top scorers in the J2 League.
In 2019, Onaiwu was loaned to Oita Trinita, another J1 League club, where he continued his impressive form, scoring ten goals in 31 matches.
His consistent performances earned him a reputation as a rising star of Japanese football, and he caught the attention of Yokohama F. Marinos, who signed him in 2020.
Recent Success: Yokohama F. Marinos and Toulouse
Onaiwu’s stint at Yokohama F. Marinos was the turning point of his career. He played 44 matches and scored 16 goals for the club, helping them secure the J1 League title in 2020.
His outstanding performances earned him a call-up to the Japan national team, and he made his international debut in 2021.
In July 2021, Onaiwu moved abroad for the first time in his career, joining Ligue 2 side Toulouse.
He adapted quickly to the new environment and became an integral part of the team, scoring ten goals in 38 matches in his debut season as Toulouse gained promotion to Ligue 1.
In the 2022-23 season, he has already scored two goals in 22 matches, helping Toulouse secure a mid-table position in Ligue 1 after 25 games.
International Career: From debut to hat-trick hero
Onaiwu’s international debut for Japan came in a friendly match with Serbia in June 2021.
Four days later, he made history by scoring a hat-trick against Kyrgyzstan in a FIFA World Cup qualifying match. His outstanding performance helped Japan secure a 5-1 victory and earned him widespread acclaim from football pundits and fans alike.
Conclusion: The Future Looks Bright for Ado Onaiwu
Ado Onaiwu’s journey from a high school footballer to a rising star of Japanese football is an inspiration to many.
And while Nigeria’s Super Eagles will not miss him thanks to the talents of Napoli’s Victor Osimhen and OGC Nice’s Terem Moffi, among others, Onaiwu has certainly made his mark on the international football scene as a proud representative of both his Japanese and Nigerian roots.