Japan’s premier left back, Yuto Nagatomo plays for Inter Milan and has won over fans with his hard running and seemingly inexhaustible stamina. Although he barely registered on the Japan football radar while at high school, he developed into an attacking wing-back during his university days.
Nagatomo made his J.League debut for FC Tokyo in 2007 while still enrolled at university, and officially signed with the club the following year. He made his Japan debut in 2008, but made a real impression at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™, at which he played in all four of Japan’s games. His ability to shut down Cameroon’s ace striker Samuel Eto’o was a key factor in Japan’s defeat of the African giants.
After that tournament, Nagatomo transferred to Italian club Cesena, and in the winter of 2011 he jumped to Inter. Perhaps Nagatomo’s finest moment, aside from his FIFA World Cup accomplishments, came in the 2011 Asian Cup final against Australia.
Deep into extra-time, Nagatomo showed his repertoire of skills when he slipped his marker down the left sideline before delivering a deep, curling cross that Tadanari Lee volleyed first-time into the net for the only goal of the game. The pocket-sized Nagatomo is a committed defender who rarely loses in one-on-one situations and is poised to make a big impression at the FIFA Confederations Cup.