Kyogo Furuhashi: Messages from Iniesta, Larsson comparisons - Japanese opens up on 'best memory' with Celtic

Messages of congratulations from Shunsuke Nakamura and comparisons to Henrik Larsson.
Kyogo Furuhashi has won his first piece of silverware with Celtic.Kyogo Furuhashi has won his first piece of silverware with Celtic.
Kyogo Furuhashi has won his first piece of silverware with Celtic.

It’s fair to say that Kyogo Furuhashi has already made quite an impact at Celtic.

The Japanese striker’s successful start to life to date at the Parkhead club reached another level when he wrote his name across Sunday’s Premier Sports final with a match-winning double against Hibs. The 26 year-old has now described the occasion as his best-ever in football so far.

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“It was the best memory so far for me in football.” he said. “Obviously we still have to continue getting on with the season. But for me it was such a great evening.”

The news travelled fast. He received messages from compatriot Nakamura, who enjoyed four successful years at Celtic, and Andres Iniesta, his former skipper at last club Vissel Kobe.

There have also been suggestions that Kyogo is already doing for Ange Postecoglou what Larsson did for Wim Jansen in the Dutch manager's sole season in charge at Celtic Park.

The Swedish striker scored 19 goals in his debut campaign after being signed by Jansen from Feyenoord as Celtic lifted the League Cup and then also torpedoed Rangers’ attempt to win 10-in-a-row.

In actual fact Kyogo is in line to beat Larsson’s initial total – he has already scored 16 times in all competitions.

But, of course, the Swede seemed to get better and better during his seven years at the club to the extent that it seemed quite natural that he should leave to join a club of the stature of Barcelona. Kyogo is flattered by the comparison.

“I’m very shocked but happy to hear this,” he said. “Of course I am happy to be compared with Henrik Larsson. Every striker would like to hear that.

But at the same time, I just need to focus on growing in my own way and in my own style.”

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He is gratified by the attention from home. “Just after we won the cup final on Sunday, I received congratulations messages from Iniesta and Nakamura,” he added. “They’d sent them first thing on Monday morning from Japan. It’s pleasing for me that they did that and are looking at my progress. It meant a lot to me.”

Whether this progress continues at St Mirren tonight remains to be seen – the clash is now in doubt due to more positive Covid cases at the Paisley club.

Kyogo was rushed back for the final after missing the previous two games with a hamstring strain. The festive games schedule is now in some doubt and the striker might yet get the chance to rest for a number of weeks.

He is not focusing too far ahead. Kyogo doesn’t know if he will be required back in Japan next month for their World Cup qualifiers against China and Saudi Arabia – reports suggest manager Hajime Moriyasu will only call up home-based players. It would mean missing games against Hearts and Dundee United, providing they go ahead.

With so much uncertainty, something Kyogo knows he can concentrate on is improving his English.

Joe Hart noted that the only frustration for the players when it comes to such an engaging character is the inability to sit down and have a conversation with him.

The players could learn Japanese of course but for the time being, Kyogo – who conducted yesterday’s interview through a translator – is trying hard to learn English.

“I really want to communicate with my team-mates, the staff and everybody so I’m actually studying very hard at the moment,” said Kyogo. “I hope to improve quickly. It’s very important.”

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