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Muto surprises Newcastle United Foundation guests

Newcastle United Foundation has brought together Newcastle United forward Yoshinori Muto with a group of adoring Japanese fans visiting the charity’s home.

Young men and women studying more than 5,700 miles away from St. James’ Park in Japan were first introduced to the Foundation last year when Community Project Co-ordinator Melissa Scott visited their hometown of Shinshiro – Japan’s ‘Newcastle’.

The Shinshiro students were keen to see where their heroes played the beautiful game and through Newcastles of the World and Newcastle United Foundation, arranged a visit to St. James’ Park.

The group of around 20 were thrilled to reunite with Melissa and enjoyed an exclusive stadium tour before being surprised by a very special visitor – Japanese international Muto, who hails from the outskirts of Tokyo, 150 miles north-east of Shinshiro.

Muto – who began his career with FC Tokyo before joining German side Mainz 05 ahead of his move to the Magpies in July 2018 – was met with impromptu applause from the students, before posing for photographs and signing autographs for the students.

Melissa said: “It was fantastic for those who I met in Japan to do a return visit where they came along to the stadium to meet Muto.

“He’s a big link between myself and the young people from Shinshiro and you could see that it meant a lot to them to have time to talk and interact with him. Muto was very generous with his time and it was a pleasure to welcome the students to St. James’ Park.”

A friendship spanning thousands of miles developed through the unique Newcastles of the World organisation which connects communities across the globe to those with different cultures and backgrounds living in cities named Newcastle in their native language.

In Shinshiro, Melissa worked with dozens of sporty schoolchildren and left a lasting legacy with the gift of a Newcastle United shirt, signed by first team players.

She said: “I was there alongside young people from Switzerland, Australia, Latvia, Denmark, America and, of course, Japan. We all participated in a sports day competing in mixed teams with the Japanese community and got to play some local Japanese games which was great.”

The Newcastles of the World network will next meet in Switzerland in April 2020 in a summit organised by David Faulkner, former Newcastle City Council leader turned Newcastles of the World co-ordinator.

David said: “Our guests from Japan were absolutely thrilled to meet Yoshinori Muto and despite us taking them up to the top of Castle Keep, to see the Angel of the North, Alnwick Castle and Holy Island, I think the visit to St. James’ Park and the meeting with one of their heroes was the highlight of their visit to the North East.

“We would like to thank the Newcastle United Foundation for arranging this very special visit and for taking the time out of their busy schedule to make us all feel so welcome. We would also like to thank Muto for his time and patience. We all look forward to him knocking in some more goals for Newcastle!”

"He’s a big link between myself and the young people from Shinshiro and you could see that it meant a lot to them to have time to talk and interact with him. Muto was very generous with his time and it was a pleasure to welcome the students to St. James’ Park."

Melissa Scott

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