‘The Japanese Ronaldo’ (after the Brazil striker) made his J-League debut for Tokyo Verdy as a 15-year-old under Ossie Ardiles, and holds the record for the youngest-ever J-League player. Two days before his 16th birthday he became the youngest scorer in the league’s history.
The Catania striker featured for Japan at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but had to wait until October to make his senior debut. At 6ft (1.80m) tall, the powerful 22-year-old offers a physical threat in Japan’s attack.
Morimoto’s record-breaking debut came in 2004 and he was named the J-League Rookie of the Year at the end of the campaign. After two promising seasons, Serie A side Catania signed him on loan for the 2006/07 campaign.
Despite suffering a cruciate ligament injury to his left knee towards the end of the season, he did enough to earn himself a permanent transfer to the Sicilian club. He has just completed his fourth season in Italy, scoring five times in 16 starts as Catania finished 13th.
Singled out by AC Milan striker Pato as the best young player in Serie A last season, Morimoto has also reportedly caught the eye of Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger.
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