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The Japanese national team have made their way through to the semifinal stage of the Asian Cup, and have been helped along the way by a player with a Barça past. The scorer of the only goal for the team in the Last 16 meeting with Saudi Arabia was 20-year-old defender Takehiro Tomiyasu, who began his training as part of the Barça Academy in Fukuoka.
FC Barcelona have four schools in Japan -Fukuoka, Katsushika, Nara and Shinagawa Oimachi-, with only China having more with five.
Tomiyasu spent three seasons in the Barça Academy in Fukuoka. He is considered to be one of the stars of the future for Japanese ootball, and in 2018 has left the J-League behind to try his luck in Europe, with Belgian side Sint-Truiden.
A player with a will to learn
During Tomiyasu’s time at the Barça Academy in Fukuoka, Ivan Palanco was the technical director. The coach has worked in Thailand, Qatar and also Japan as assistant to Miguel Ángel Lotina al Tokyo Verdy and Cerezo Osaka. Palanco says that “Takehiro is a very reserved, serious player with a will to improve. He is a very complete, multi-talented player who has shown that he can compete in leagues of a higher level than that in Japan.”
Tomiyasu played for the Barça Academy in the 2011 edition of the MIC tournament held in the Costa Brava, and Palanco remembers a great goal that he scored.
“He scored a fantastic goal, and when he was celebrating on the sidelines with the rest of the team, the opposition took the kick-off. Luckily, the referee stopped the move, otherwise they would have scored in an open goal!”
Fukuoka, the first Barça Academy in Japan
The Fukuoka school was inaugurated in 2009 and was the first school in Japan. It currently has 400 players who learn with the FC Barcelona methodology. In total, 1,300 children participate in academies in Japan, where they have the support of FC Barcelona main sponsor Rakuten.
Japan to be first stop on 2019 Summer Tour
Japanese fans will have the chance to see their heroes in person this summer, when the FC Barcelona first team travel to Japan and China for their 2019/20 preseason tour.
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