• Kyodo


Japan defender Yuto Nagatomo was one of the stars of Thursday’s 2-0 win over Australia that sealed automatic qualification for next year’s World Cup finals.

And there was cause for further celebration on Saturday as the Italy-based 30-year-old revealed he is set to become a father.

The Inter Milan full-back, who attracted public attention when he told Japanese media in June last year that his now-wife, Airi Taira, was “my amore” (my love) after their relationship was reported in an illustrated weekly, announced that the couple were expecting their first child on social media.

But he told reporters Saturday after Japan’s first training session ahead of its final qualifier away to Saudi Arabia, that he was not sure if the couple were expecting a bambino (boy) or bambina (girl).

“She is in the stable period as she is four or five months pregnant,” he said of his wife. “I think it is a bambino but I am not absolutely sure.”

Asked why he announced the news on Saturday, he said with a wry smile: “Because it would have been out in the next day’s newspapers. We wanted to announce it with our own words.”

The word “Amore” made it to the top 10 buzzwords of the year along with words such as “Pokemon Go” and “PPAP” when the list was announced Dec. 1 by a publisher.

In the match against Australia, Nagatomo set up Takuma Asano for the Japan’s first goal before Yosuke Ideguchi wrapped up the win with a late second.

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