The appointment of the Japanese international defender was announced at a press conference on 8 December, just days after he and his Gamba Osaka team-mates lifted the J-League title.

Donning the FIFA jacket, symbolic of acceptance into the FIFA family, Miyamoto was delighted with his second honour of the week. "I was already looking forward to the tournament before the appointment, but now this adds a whole new dimension to it." Miyamoto, along with every other football fan, is excited at the prospect of a competition featuring the best clubs from 6 different continents.

"In Japan you can see European and South American matches on TV but this competition brings together teams that would never normally play each other. That is the attraction for me," added Japan's captain. "Japanese fans tend to place more emphasis on the game at the national team level but I'm hoping that this tournament will show them how irresistible the appeal of club football can be."

In all the years he spent, as a child, glued to his set watching the old Toyota Cup played between European and South American clubs, he never once expected to one day be taking part himself. With the new knockout format however, the winner of the AFC Champions League now earns the right to contest the title of World Club Champion.

As J-League champions, Miyamoto and Gamba Osaka will line up with the rest of Asia's elite in next year's Champions League. But given the opportunity to participate in this year's Club Championship, who would he most like to play against?

"Liverpool. I would love to test myself against Steven Gerrard. Putting what-ifs aside for a moment though, what my sights are really set on is the Champions League next season and the World Club Championship beyond. To have been made the Goodwill ambassador is without doubt a real source of pride but to actually take part as a player would be a dream come true."