How Celtic plan to realise Hyun-jun Yang potential - overcoming language barrier, Harry Kewell role, attitude factor
The 21-year-old arrived from K-League side Gangwon FC in the summer for a fee in the region of £2m and has shown flashes of ability in his 15 appearances for the Scottish champions thus far, culminatng in his first goal for the club with a headed opener in the 6-0 win over Aberdeen on Sunday.
While taking a big step up the footballing ladder, Yang arrived in Glasgow with plenty senior experience already under his belt with 71 appearances for his previous club yielding nine goals and five assists.
Add in a K-League Young Player of the Year award for 2022, on top of winning his first senior international cap under head coach Jurgen Klinsmann in September, and it is clear there is a player with significant potential to realise.
And that is why Celtic and Rodgers are doing everything they can to nurture his talent with layers of support on and off the pitch whether he is starting games or sitting on the bench, on the training pitch or in the classroom.
“They know that if they play and then not do so well, it’s about constant growth," the Celtic boss explained. “Sometimes you’ll play, come off at half-time, be on the bench or maybe not even be involved. But it’s a constant process that never changes.
“He’ll sit with the coaches, me and talk around his game and acknowledge how hard he works. He’s come from a different culture, half-way across the world and it takes time.
“The players do their lessons and English classes, so eventually they’ll get the language. Like everything, it’s about what you put into it. If ever I need to have clarity and be really clear so they understand we bring in the translator so everything is understood.
“The club is great with that because these boys can be easily left to just come in and have nothing, just be expected to get on with it and learn English. But it’s not as easy as that so they have that support."
Rodgers has retained the coaching staff employed under his predecessor Ange Postecoglou which has ensured that Yang, and the rest of the Celtic wide men, can learn the nuances of the position from a former English Premier League icon.
“The process is on the pitch, he’ll sit down with Harry Kewell to go through the positioning of the wingers," Rodgers said, explaining the role of the former Liverpool, Leeds and Australia superstar on his backroom staff.
“Harry speaks to me about our structure and then it feeds back. That’s the process. On the pitches, the football is the language and it’s universal.
“The analysis and the feedback is constant, all the players get that – and we feed forward to them too because you need that in order to progress.
“That’s where you hopefully see the building taking place.”
Rodgers has high hopes for Yang based not only on his footballing ability but also the mindset he has displayed since his arrival at Celtic Park.
“As a young player we know he’s going to develop but you need the right attitude to do that. He has that and he’s doing that,” he added.
“Sometimes it takes time to understand the things that are asked of you and it’s up to us to find how best you fit into the structure.
“I thought he was excellent the other night [in Madrid], he gave us energy and penetration that we’d lacked in the game.
“He was very good with and without the ball."
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