• Kyodo

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Inter Milan defender Yuto Nagatomo said he was pleased to have proved a point in winning a new three-year contract with the Serie A powerhouse as he arrived back in Japan on Thursday.

Nagatomo found it tough breaking into Roberto Mancini’s plans early in the season, but gradually won the manager over and in April was handed a new deal running through June 2019.

“I was standing on the edge of a cliff at the start (of the season) and I don’t think anyone thought I would be able to win back a regular place in the team,” Nagatomo told reporters at Narita airport.

“It has been a fulfilling year and one in which I have grown (as a player),” added the 29-year-old, who joined Inter from Cesena in February 2011.

Nagatomo is expected to be part of the Japan squad that will play in the four-team Kirin Cup featuring Denmark, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Bulgaria next month.

The Kirin Cup games will be played on June 3 at Aichi Prefecture’s Toyota Stadium and June 7 at Osaka’s Suita Stadium.

“We will be playing against strong European teams and I think through that we will find that there are lots of things that we need to work on. We want to play well and win well,” said Nagatomo.

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