The story of Tokyo Verdy is a real-life parable illustrating the old saying that "pride cometh before the fall". When the J.League was launched, Verdy was the strongest, most successful and most heavily publicised team, but a combination of greed, mismanagement, vanity, complacency and wastefulness transformed Verdy from champions to whipping boys in the space of less than two decades. A full account of the rise and fall is provided in the "Team History" section below, and it reads almost like a movie script, with all the elements of excess and self-inflicted doom one would expect from a Shakespearian tragedy.
Verdy was founded by Yomiuri, the newspaper and media company that also owns the Yomiuri Giants baseball team, in 1969. With a strong collection of talent and the financial backing of Yomiuri, the team swept into the J.League with a roar. Verdy -- a deliberate misspelling of the Italian word for "green" to match the color of their uniforms -- was originally based in Kawasaki, just to the west of Tokyo. The team mascot was a buzzard with the faux-Portuguese name "Verdao" (Big Green?). Verdy Kawasaki captured the first two J.League championships, in 1993 and 1994, as well as three consecutive Nabisco (league) cups. By 1995, Verdy seemed to be almost synonyous with success.
But for a multitude of reasons, Verdy squandered that success and alienated almost everyone. The team "relocated" to Tokyo in 1999, taking the name "Tokyo Verdy 1969". This not only outraged former fans from Kawasaki, but also failed miserably at tapping the Tokyo fan base. Highly-paid and pampered players spent more time carousing in night clubs than practicing, and within a few years the team was slipping down the rankings rapidly. Eventually, Verdy collapsed so completely that it had to be bought out by a group of former players, who didnt want their legacy to vanish completely. Today, the team is slowly trying to rebuild on the ruined foundations of the past, and may eventually manage to bid for another shot in the J1. But nothing can erase the sense of sadness over how foolishly the team squandered its resources and its once-proud reputation.