Despite only being 19 years of age, Ryo Miyaichi has already experienced a lot in his career so far. After impressing at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Nigeria back in 2009 he was snapped up by Arsenal, with Arsene Wenger declaring that "his raw ability has attracted many clubs around the world."
Wenger have the teenager very little time to settle in England and he was soon shipped off to Feyenoord on a season-long loan deal. There, he was named man of the match on his debut and was dubbed as 'Ryodinho' by a section of the Dutch media.
Upon his return to England, Arsenal have allowed him to continue his footballing education at Bolton Wanderers and now Wigan Athletic in order to give him greater experience. The winger admits that he's 'enjoying every minute' of his career, particularly at Wigan where he has shown glimpses of potential greatness.
FIFA.com: You featured at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Nigeria, what’s your memory of the tournament and how did it help you develop as a player?
Ryo Miyaichi: It was a pivotal experience in my career. In the group we played against Brazil, including both Neymar and Philippe Coutinho, and also against Switzerland, who won the tournament in the end. It’s no understatement to say that I would not be where I am today without that tournament, because through my experiences at the FIFA U-17 World Cup I began to learn about real ‘world football’.
So many young players want to come to England, not only because they want to play in the big stadiums with their history, but also to develop their game. Why is English football important to a player like you?
As far as Japanese TV is concerned, there are so many live Premier League matches shown. So when I was younger I enjoyed watching Premier League, I could see the pace and high tempo of it even on TV. Those features attracted me so much when I was child and I thought it was a great league, very impressive.
You look to have quite a happy demeanour, you’re always pictured smiling. Do you think your personality has helped you adapt to your new surroundings?
I have an easy-going personality; I always try to be very friendly - even to strangers. By living in several countries I’ve found I’ve grown up more and more. I quickly sensed the importance of my time in the Netherlands and I’m sure I am growing up the right way by living overseas.
I would not be where I am today without that tournament, because through my experiences [there], I began to learn about real ‘world football’.
You’ve been away from a life in Japan for many years, what do you miss most about your country?
I miss Japanese food. Of course I can eat it in the foreign countries too but in my opinion authentic Japanese food in Japan is outstanding.
It’s only 18 months until the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™. Does the idea of potentially playing for the Samurai Blue there, excite you?
Of course playing in the World Cup is my true dream, but to be honest it’s every kid’s dream. However, Japan still has to play in the final round of qualifying matches, so our team needs to continue preparing as a team. As a player, I would like to show my quality on the pitch at club level so I may then be called up by the Japanese national team. That’s the most important thing I think.
You’ve joined Wigan Athletic on a year-long loan and you seem to be very excited to be here and very happy. What is it like at the DW Stadium, are you enjoying it?
Every day is exciting for me. All my team-mates and the staff are really friendly, that’s why I settled into this team so easily and I thank everyone at the club for that. When it comes to football, Wigan play a skilful, passing game and there’s a lot I can learn at this club.
*You can watch a free video of Ryo Miyaichi speaking about his time at Wigan Athletic so far by clicking on the link to the right.