Arsenal starlet Ryo Miyaichi does not believe he would be where he is in the game today had it not been for his experiences at the 2009 FIFA U-17 World Cup, where he was able to pit his wits against Brazilian star Neymar.
The 19-year-old signed a professional contract with Arsenal in January 2011 after completing his exams in his native Japan, and was immediately sent on loan to Eredivisie side Feyenoord.
Miyaichi was impressive during his time in Holland and returned to Arsenal with valuable first-team experience under his belt, and made his competitive Gunners debut against Shrewsbury Town in September of last year.
The young winger has, however, been sent out on loan once more to further his education away from Arsenal, and will spend the entirety of the season with Premier League outfit Wigan Athletic.
Miyaichi continues to progress with every match he plays, but says the first pivotal point in his career - prior to joining Arsenal - came when facing Neymar and others at the U-17 World Cup.
Neymar scored in a 3-2 win for Brazil against Japan, although neither side was able to progress past the initial group stage.
"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," Miyaichi told FIFA.com.
"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’."
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