Kaoru Mitoma can’t wait to get his Albion career underway after his first visit to the Amex on Wednesday.
The 25-year-old signed for us last summer on a four-year contract, before heading out on loan to Belgian side Royale Union Saint-Gilloise, helping Union to a second place finish in the Jupiler Pro League.
“I made some fantastic memories with Union,” Kaoru said. “We won the regular league before finishing as runners up – we made history for Union. I am very proud of what we achieved.
“The Belgium league is different from the Japanese league. The speed, dynamics and type of football gave me a good introduction to European football. I feel ready to play here.
“I know the Premier League is on another level, so I hope to adapt to this next level just as quickly.”
The Japan international played alongside Albion’s Deniz Undav and Kacper Kozlowski in Belgium and is looking forward to working with them again.
“I spoke to Deniz and Kacper, mostly before and during games – talking strategy and play styles. They are both great players and I am happy to be playing with them again with Albion.
“We spoke a little bit about Brighton – I would watch the Albion games as much as possible.”
Mitoma is relishing the prospect of playing in the Premier League.
“I am very excited to play in front of the great supporters this club has. The Premier League is the biggest in the world, when I was growing up I would watch it. It's a dream come true to be here.
“My first aim is to play games and contribute to the team – I want to help the team win. I look forward to getting to know my new teammates and also the Premier League.”
He already has big game experience though, having played a big part in Japan reaching this winter’s World Cup in Qatar.
Coming on as a late substitute in a qualifier against Australia, Mitoma scored twice, with the three points ensuring Japan qualified for the tournament.
“Those two goals were the best moments of my career. It gave me confidence in many ways; for preparation for the Premier League, for my own personal growth. I also think those goals helped in the manager and my teammates having more confidence in me.
“It’s an honour playing for the Japan. I have only played a few games for the national team, but I play with great pride.”