Touching down in Tokyo following a successful first year in the English Premier League, Japan winger Kaoru Mitoma vowed to get physically stronger before his next season in arguably the world's toughest professional football competition.

The 26-year-old attacking dynamo played a big role in Brighton achieving their best-ever finish of sixth place, securing European qualification for the first time in the club's 122-year history.

He scored seven league goals, with a scorching mid-range effort against Leicester in January among the most memorable.

Japan and Brighton winger Kaoru Mitoma gives an interview in Tokyo on May 30, 2023. (Kyodo)

"The biggest thing was that I was able to experience the world's highest level of soccer firsthand," Mitoma said Tuesday after arriving at Tokyo's Haneda airport.

Having made a name for himself with his dribbling prowess, Mitoma also wants to be known as someone who does not shy away from the physical side of the game.

"I need to take things up a level physically. I was on the losing side of too many challenges," he said.

The former star for J-League side Kawasaki Frontale raised his international profile to new heights with an outstanding tournament for the Samurai Blue at the World Cup in Qatar late last year.

He has been picked in the Japan squad for the upcoming friendlies against El Salvador at Toyota Stadium in Aichi Prefecture on June 15 and Peru five days later at Panasonic Stadium Suita in Osaka Prefecture.

"We want to increase the popularity of soccer with the way we play," he said.

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