15-year-old Kubo makes top team debut for FC Tokyo

FC Tokyo striker Takefusa Kubo joined the ranks of the J1’s youngest players on Wednesday when he came off the bench in the 66th minute of his team’s Levain Cup group stage match against Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo.

With Tokyo leading 1-0, the starlet stepped onto the Ajinomoto Stadium pitch in relief of goal-scorer Kensuke Nagai to a round of applause. At 15 years, 10 months, and 29 days, Kubo is one of the youngest to appear in the J.League’s oldest tournament, falling short of current record-holder Takayuki Morimoto’s mark by just nine days.

Kubo’s appearance in the Levain Cup marks another milestone in his development, and comes just one day after he was named to Japan’s squad for the upcoming FIFA U-20 World Cup in South Korea.

After making his J3 League debut for FC Tokyo U-23 last November, he scored his first goal in the J.League’s third flight earlier this season.

While both the club and the Japan Football Association have endeavored to shield the youngster from the harsh glare of the media spotlight, fans and observers are eager to see the player known as the “Japanese Messi” blossom ahead of his anticipated star turn at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Tokyo’s 1-0 win lifted the capital side to third place in Group A with six points, three behind current leaders Vegalta Sendai.