By Giuseppe Muro

Ryo says getting his first taste of professional football at Feyenoord last season was vital for his development after coming straight from Japanese High School.

The teenage winger signed a long-term contract with Arsenal in January and immediately joined the Dutch giants on loan in order to help his adjustment to European football while awaiting the work permit he required to play in England.

After scoring on his first appearance at De Kuip, Feyenoord’s home ground, Ryo shone in the Eredivise and became an instant fans’ favourite with his direct nature and dazzling skill.

“It was my first year as a professional and, even though it was only half of a season, it was a great experience,” he told

“I was lucky to be there and play, I was surrounded by both nice fans and staff and I am grateful to all of them.

“When I was loaned out to Feyenoord, I felt some kind of connection."

Such was Ryo’s impact during his time in Holland, the 18-year-old was dubbed ‘Ryodinho’ by the Dutch media. But the teenager admits he has some way to go before he can be compared to the two-time World Player of the Year.

“Yes, I believe they compare me to Ronaldinho,” he said. “But I can’t hold a candle to him.

“There needs to be a lot of hard work in order to catch up with and overtake him!”

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18 Aug 2011