• Kyodo

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Veteran Japan defender Yuto Nagatomo has rejoined his first club FC Tokyo, the J. League first-division side said Sunday.

Nagatomo’s move was announced on his 35th birthday and comes after he spent 11 years in Europe, with the fullback playing seven years at Italian giant Inter Milan after joining the then-European champion in early 2011.

“I’m really glad to return to this place I love after 11 years,” Nagatomo said in a statement through FC Tokyo.

“I’ve battled in Italy, Turkey and France during that time for my respective clubs and also for my own development. I hope to bring all the experience I earned there back to Tokyo.”

Nagatomo joined FC Tokyo in 2008 while still at Meiji University and signed for Italian side Cesena after the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. He spent half a season there before his move to Inter.

He spent 2.5 years at Turkish giant Galatasaray from the start of 2018 before moving to Marseille in France, where he played a season alongside compatriot Hiroki Sakai — who also returned to Japan this summer to play for Urawa Reds.

Nagatomo has the second-highest number of caps for the Samurai Blue at 127, the latest of which came in a 1-0 World Cup qualifier win over China on Tuesday. He trails only Yasuhito Endo who played 152 times for Japan.

Nagatomo has played in the last three World Cups.

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