FC Tokyo starlet Jakkit Wachpirom becomes first Thai to score in J.League
FC Tokyo Under-23 winger Jakkit Wachpirom has made history as the first Thai to score in the J.League, a feat that has so far eluded his more celebrated compatriot Chanathip Songkrasin.
Jakkit, on loan at the J3 club from Bangkok United, side footed home from an angle in the first minute of Sunday's 2-1 victory over Cerezo Osaka U23.
For the club, it meant a winning end to a season in which they finish in 11th spot, and for Jakkit it was the latest high point in what has been a successful loan spell since joining in July.
Jakkit has established himself as a regular starter in recent games, and it is hugely encouraging for Thai football to see him make a positive impact in his 11 appearances. This comes at the same time as Chanathip has become a key player with Consadole Sapporo in J1, helping the club avoid relegation.
But Jakkit has managed to find the net before Consadole's on-loan playmaker, who has still to get his first J-League goal after 16 appearances.
"First of all, I am delighted that the team won the game. I am also proud that I managed to score my first goal for the club," Jakkit said.
"I am very grateful to the all the people who have given me advice and support to help improve my game and thanks to the fans for their support."
It remains to be seen if there will be negotiations to extend Jakkit's deal next year. If not, Bangkok United will certainly be getting back a better player than the one that left them.
While he may not be ready for the step up to Japan's top league alongside Chanathip, he has proved his ability and mental strength by quickly adapting to his environment and forcing his way into the team.
It is a stark contrast to the experience of another Southeast Asian player in the same league.
Cambodia's star man Chan Vathanaka has endured a miserable time with MYFC Fujieda, featuring for just one three-minute appearance in J3. He is expected to return to Southeast Asia soon, with many clubs linked with a move for him.
Earlier, Chanathip's final appearance of the season saw Consadole defeat Sagan Tosu 3-2 on Saturday. The club from Sapporo finish their season following promotion in a comfortable 11th place, having been threatened with relegation when Chanathip joined the club in June.
However, it was once again former England striker Jay Bothroyd who made the headlines, scoring his 10th goal in 14 games since joining in mid-season.
Bangkok-based Paul Murphy has lived in Asia for a decade, writing for ESPN FC since 2014. He is a former Daily Express sub-editor. @PaulMurphyBKK