JEF United Chiba are a professional soccer club in the J. League, currently playing in the J2 league. Their home towns are Ichihara and Chiba from Chiba prefecture. They are one of the 10 teams (the original 10) that were in the J. League when it launched in 1993. As their home stadium they are using the Fukuda Denshi Arena in Chiba city.
The club was first founded in 1946 as Furukawa Electric Soccer Club. They joined the Japan Soccer League (JSL) when it started in 1965. Under the name Furukawa Electric, they won the JSL championship twice, Emperor’s Cup 4 times and the JSL Cup 3 times.
Before the J. League was established in 1991, the club changed their name to East Japan JR Furukawa Football Club and settled on the nickname JEF United. The team received a lot of attention when former West German National Team player Pierre Littbarski, who had played in the World Cup 3 times and also experienced the championship victory, joined the team. However, when the J. League kicked off, JEF United’s position kept dropping from the middle to the bottom of the league.
The situation turned in 2003 when they hired former Yugoslavia team manager Ichiva Osim, who reformed the team and helped them achieve 3rd place throughout the year. In 2005 they won their first title after joining the J.League, the Nabisco Cup and the following year they claimed the same trophy again.
There were high hopes that JEF would follow that up with the J. League championship victory, but JEF’s good results did not go unnoticed and their manager Osim left the team after he was offered to manage the Japan National Team. Moreover, with the face of the team, Yuki Abe, transferring to the Urawa Reds, the team fell into a slump.
In 2009, after finishing the season in last place, they were finally relegated to J2. After that, to this day they have yet to get back to J1.
One of JEF’s famous players besides Littbarski is Frank Ordenewitz. In 1994, Ordenewitz scored 30 points and shined as the leading scorer. And of course the “Oriental Computer”, as he was called, Yasuhiko Okudera, who played in the Bundesliga was also a member of Furukawa Electric.
The team’s home jersey is yellow and their supplier from 2007 has been Kappa. Their shirts have logos of Fuji Electric, Suica, and others.