SOUTHEND United centre-back Dan Matsuzaka has spoken of his pride after winning his first ever international call up for Japan.

The promising defender played in two warm up games for Japan’s under 19 side before being on the bench for their clash against England.

And the 18-year-old is now hoping to stay involved in the set-up.

“It was a fantastic experience for me,” said Matsuzaka, who qualifies to play for Japan through his father.

“I played in matches we had against Birmingham City and Liverpool and it was brilliant to be a part of.

“It was completely different to what I have been used to and the technical ability of the Japanese players was just like nothing else I have ever seen before.

“They’re not the biggest of teams so they play through the thirds and there’s certainly no hitting the striker early.

“It was really enjoyable and we got to train at the training grounds of Liverpool and Manchester City which was just incredible.

“Hopefully I can stay involved now because it’s a different style of football and I certainly feel as though it will help to improve me as a player.”

Japan’s young guns drew with Birmingham City 1-1 before being narrowly beaten 3-2 by Liverpool.

After that, despite long spells of possession, they were overpowered by England and suffered a 5-1 defeat.

But Matsuzaka was impressed by the level of the performances.

“I thought we played well and had enough chances to have won both games against the club sides,” said the defender.

“Against England the team actually played well too but England were physically stronger and I think that made the difference.”

Matsuzaka, who was on the bench for the Shrimpers first team four times last season, will return to training with Southend on Tuesday morning.

And he has been pleased by his start to the season, under the guidance of Blues’ new under 21 manager Dave Robertson.

“I really enjoy working with Dave and like the way he wants us to play too,” said Matsuzaka.

“I don’t think I’ve played in a game we’ve lost since Dave has come in and he’s been really good.

“Hopefully that can continue and it would be great to be involved in the Essex Senior Cup game against Redbridge this week.”