Kaoru Mitoma is fit and raring to go for next season – after his flying start to Premier League life was noted back home.

The Albion winger has become one of the faces of Japan’s national airline, ANA.

Data compiled by a respected research company puts him as the nation’s favourite footballer.

His sponsorship deal is being seen as significant in Japan, a nation where football is not the No.1 sport.

He met staff and held a brief press conference at Haneda International Aiport in Tokyo.

Mitoma, who was not in the national starting XI as recently as the World Cup, has emerged as a huge sporting star at home, helped by his efforts for the Seagulls in the Prem and FA Cup.

He said: "The most important thing was getting through the season without injuries, so I'll be happy if I get in some good rest over the summer, raise my quality to another level and make the next national team squad."

Football ranks below baseball but ahead of sumo in terms of Japan’s favourite sports according to data published this month by Central Research Company.

The same research showed Mitoma is now the sixth most popular sports performer in the nation.

He is the only footballer in the top ten.

Speaking after a recent starring role for the national team in a win over Peru, Mitoma made it clear his work with Albion has been key to his progress.

He told gekisaka.jp: "I'm in the national team because of how I performed at my club, so I'm happy that what I was doing (at Brighton) is shining through with Japan.”