After a couple of false starts, the Asian invasion of European soccer is most definitely under way.
Tuesday, August 27, was a momentous day for Japanese soccer, but Chinese and Korean players, too, are making their mark around the continent.
Pride of place Tuesday went to Junichi Inamoto, who scored two fine goals for Japan in the World Cup.
The former Gamba Osaka midfielder netted a hat trick as Fulham beat Italy's Bologna 3-1 in the second leg of their UEFA Intertoto Cup final.
"Ina" had also scored in the 2-2 draw in the first leg, so Fulham won the final 5-3 on aggregate.
While the Intertoto Cup is only a qualifying tournament for the UEFA Cup, Inamoto's efforts will have increased his popularity with the Fulham fans after his miserable year with Arsenal last season.
They will also have proved a few cynics wrong, but, of course, there is a long way to go in the season, and Inamoto must still prove he can command a place in Fulham's Premier League team. This must remain his career goal for the time being.
Now we move a step higher to the Champions League qualifying round, where Shinji Ono scored Feyenoord's first goal in a 2-0 victory against Fenerbahce in Turkey. This gave the Rotterdam club a 3-0 win on aggregate and a place in the lucrative Champions League.
A game in Turkey is always a tough test of character, as the home fans are well known for their passion and also their hostility towards visiting teams.
So for Ono to further enhance his reputation in this environment was a great achievement.
Joining Feyenoord in the Champions League groups are Belgian champions Genk, who lost 4-2 away to Slavia Prague in the Czech Republic but advanced on the away goals rule after winning the first leg 2-0 in Belgium.
If the scores are level after two legs, which they were here, 4-4, then the goals scored by the away team count double, so Genk's two in Prague proved to be the difference.
Takayuki Suzuki can now look forward to Champions League football in his first season in Europe.
Elsewhere in Europe, China's Li Tie has proved to be an instant hit in Everton's midfield, and defender Sun Jihai has started impressively for Manchester City, also in the English Premier League.
South Korean World Cup star Seol Ki Hyeon is the four-goal leading scorer in Belgium with Anderlecht, but compatriot Ahn Jung Hwan's chances of joining Blackburn Rovers have been dashed as the British government refuses to issue him a work permit.
With the Italian season starting in the middle of September, and all eyes on Serie A veteran Hidetoshi Nakata at Parma and new recruit Shunsuke Nakamura at Reggina, these are exciting times for Japan in particular and Asia in general.
Let's hope this new generation of soccer pioneers can maintain their good form and open the gates for more Japanese, Koreans and Chinese to move into the mainstream.
No doubt the displays of Japan and South Korea in the World Cup have helped break down a few psychological barriers for Asian players overseas.