EM – Kyogo Furuhashi: Iniesta’s tears, the rejection of Alkmaar and the emergence of a cult hero

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Parkhead has a new terrace hero. Japanese winger Kyogo Furuhashi raced out of the blocks with five goals in five games and has already become a fan favorite. From making Iniesta cry, to the inevitable Shunsuke Nakamura comparisons, to the rejection of today’s opponent AZ Alkmaar. This is the story of Celtic’s new favorite son.

“He absolutely has the talent to play in Europe. He has strong technique and I think he can be successful. ”The words of none other than Andres Iniesta, the legendary ex-Barcelona midfielder who played alongside Furuhashi at Vissel Kobe.

The world champion shed tears while saying goodbye to his outgoing teammate at a public ceremony in front of 2,757 fans. Iniesta isn’t the only Barcelona legend to vouch for Furuhashi. Former Vissel Kobe teammate David Villa encouraged the Celtic newcomer on Instagram, quoting Shannon “The Cannon” Briggs with a “Let’s go Champion” comment when his move to Parkhead was confirmed.

Japanese players have one decorated story in a green and white jersey. In 2005 Shunsuke Nakamura joined a major European club as one of the first Asian talents. What followed was the spark that ignited a lifelong love affair between player and supporter. Nakamura’s time in Scotland brought moments rooted in folklore. A neat chip against Dundee United, two memorable free kicks against Manchester United and three straight league titles.

While recognizing his illustrious ancestors, Furuhashi is eager to find his own way at The Hoops. Remembering his compatriots who excelled in Europe, Kyogo said: “I’ve been compared to some players like Nakamura, Hidetoshi Nakata and Keisuke Honda. But I want to put my own name in the history books. I don’t want to be the new one. ”While five games is a small sample size, the signs are encouraging that Furuhashi’s entries are being judged on their own promising merits.

At a time when scouting and data analysis are more prevalent than ever, Furuhashi’s move from Vissel Kobe to Celtic was refreshingly old-fashioned. The new Celtic coach Ange Postecoglu led Yokohama F. Marinos in the J.League, and it was the problems his new protégé caused his old team that made the transfer possible. “It was the only game my defenders never looked forward to. They knew his ability to lag behind, break lines, and use his speed. He was a constant source of anger. ”

A late bloomer, Kyogo was rejected by some J.League clubs after leaving university before moving to the second division with Gifu FC. His impressive performance earned him a move to Vissel Kobe, where he was named Player of the Year in a row and scored 41 goals in 94 games from the wing.

In a team with Iniesta, Villa, Lukas Podolski and Thomas Vermaelen Furuhashi was the outstanding player. Interestingly, he previously turned down a move to Celtic’s opponents AZ Alkmaar and will have the opportunity to continue punishing his former potential employers tonight.

Like Furuhashi, Celtic have a lot to prove domestically and in Europe this season. After the SPFL title was ceded to the Rangers last season, anything but a return to the summit is unacceptable for a team spoiled for success. Based on the early evidence, Kyogo Furuhashi will be an important cog in Celtic’s title hunting machine.

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