Blond-haired, baby-faced midfield buzzsaw with a vague resemblance to one of those dolls you used to win by shooting metal ducks at a funfair, Inamoto signed for Arsenal from Gamba Osaka in 2001 in the sort of deal that was supposed to net £100m in merchandising sales to gullible Far Eastern teenagers. A lay-out of £3.5m bought Arsène Wenger a player he thought worthy of two League Cup starts and a pair of substitute appearances in the Champions League. How much Gunners-related bed linen was sold in Tokyo is not recorded.
Released and then loaned by Gamba to Fulham, Inamoto couldn't command a regular place in a struggling side, picked up more yellow cards than he scored goals, broke a leg, and failed to impress Chris Coleman sufficiently to earn a permanent move. A third attempt to make a go of it in England came when Gary Megson paid £200,000 to bring him to West Brom.
Megson's successor, Bryan Robson, however, preferred the more flamboyant talents of Ronnie Wallwork, and loaned the Japanese international to Cardiff City, and loaned the Japanese international to Cardiff City, bringing him back later in what appeared a bold bid to secure relegation. Inamoto left England having played 82 games in six years. Got on for the last few minutes of Japan's win over Denmark and did not disgrace himself, unlike some players we could name.
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