The Japanese club had requested local authorities to let the Vietnamese player enter the country as a foreign expert.
The 28-year-old keeper took off from HCMC’s Tan Son Nhat International Airport and transited at South Korea’s Incheon International Airport before landing at Narita International Airport in Tokyo. He was tested for Covid-19 upon arrival and sent to a quarantine facility, 200 kilometers away.
Lam and the J1 League club had inked a contract in January, though he was unable to fly to Japan to sign the deal in person due to Covid-19 travel restrictions.
Since its first match on Feb. 27 against Kashiwa Reysol in the J1 League 2021 season, Osaka has employed 34-year-old South Korean Kim Jin-hyeo as goalie. Kim is currently the number one keeper for Osaka, having worn the club’s jersey for a decade. After the first eight games, he failed to block seven attacks.
The team lies in fourth place out of 20 clubs with 13 points, six points behind current leaders Kawasaki Frontale.
Andrey Grushin, Lam’s agent, said the contract did not address how many games Lam would appear in. The Vietnamese player will have to compete with Kim and 36-year-old Japanese Kenya Matsui for a chance to be fielded.
According to previous reports, Lam would be wearing the number one jersey, with his name already added to the J1 League club’s locker room.
Lam spent his youth at Spartak Moscow and Dynamo Moscow.
In 2011, he came to Vietnam to play for Hoang Anh Gia Lai. Then, after unsuccessful spells in Laos and Russia, his career finally took off in 2015 when he joined Hai Phong FC.
He retained his excellent form for the next four years, got called up to the national team and has become its number one choice.
In 2019, he joined Muangthong United from Hai Phong FC for $500,000 and played 42 times for the club.
He will be the fourth Vietnamese to play for a Japanese club, after Le Cong Vinh (Consadole Sapporo), Nguyen Tuan Anh (Yokohama FC) and Nguyen Cong Phuong (Mito Hollyhock). Osaka are in J1 League while all three predecessors played in J2 League.