There were three minutes left of Gamba Osaka’s 3-2 victory over Asian Champions League win over FC Seoul when Ritsu Doan was called from the bench.
He was 16.
Since then he has played twice more for the Gamba first team in the J.League. Once as a sub and then four days after his seventeenth birthday as a starter on the left wing against Vegalta Sendai.
While the possessor of a fine left foot and impressive technical skill Doan is a real utility player. He has appeared in virtually every outfield position during an impressive youth career that saw him nicknamed the ‘Crown Jewel’ of the Gamba academy.
A Japan youth international at all levels upto Under 18 he is already being mentioned as a potential member of Japan’s squad at the Tokyo 2020 Olmpics.
Doan was one of few bright spots for Japan at the Asia U-16 Championships in Thailand in September 2014.
He produced several mature performances, scored Japan’s opening goal of the tournament in a 2-0 win over Hong Kong but was unable to stop South Korea, and their FC Barcelona prodigy Lee Seung-woo, in the quarterfinals.
Doan emerged from the tournament with his reputation enhanced, watching European scouts were impressed and Japan’s coaches praised his skill and temperament.
There are high hopes for him at Gamba. The calm diligence with which he has approached his first team involvement suggests he should acclimatise well to senior football.
He will have to settle on a position before long but for now remains happy to fill in where required.
Versatile, quick, intelligent with commendable maturity Doan Ritsu is a name to watch.
Name: Ritsu DOAN 堂安律
Club: Gamba Osaka
National team: Japan U-18
Date of birth: June 16, 1998
Place of birth: Hyogo, Japan
Position: full back, centre back, midfield, winger