Takehiro Tomiyasu’s career to date has taken him from Japan, to Belgium, then Italy before arriving in England.
So although he’s still only 24 years old, the full-back has plenty of experience in adapting to different cultures, changing rooms, and team dynamics.
He’s taken it all in his stride, with the minimum of fuss – just how he faces challenges on the pitch, and he says that learning to fit into a new environment is ‘part of the job’.
But still, as the only player from his continent in the squad, Tomi has had to adapt more than most to the expectations and conventions of fitting into a team in English football.
Being a team player though, and having the support of teammates, has become second nature. It’s something he’s known virtually all his life.
“The first time I was ever part of a team was when I was four or five,” he begins. “It was at my school, even before elementary school, like a kindergarten, and there they had a football club, and that’s where I started. That was the first time I had played football and I’ve basically been part of teams ever since.”
So as a future Japan international did he stand out among his peers even then, during those early days?
“No, no, I was not special at all!” he says laughing. “I was not special when I was younger. I’m not just being humble, if you like you can ask my teammates from the time and they will tell you! But I enjoyed playing, that’s why I did it, not because I thought I was especially good or anything.
“I never played any other sports, only ever football. That was what I loved. We were all good friends in the team as well, because obviously we were at the same school, so we knew each other well.
“I’m still in touch with some of them. In fact my best friend back in Japan is someone I grew up with at school and played football with. We were at the same academy from the age of 13 to 17, we played as teammates and we have been best friends ever since. He doesn’t play anymore though.”