Kyogo Furuhashi lifts lid on Celtic conversations with Shunsuke Nakamura and Andres Iniesta

Kyogo Furuhashi has revealed he is tapping into personal advice from former Celtic idol Shunsuke Nakamura as he looks to emulate his compatriot’s success with the club.

Japanese winger Kyogo Furuhashi made his debut for Celtic as a substitute in their 2-1 Premiership defeat against Hearts at Tynecastle on Saturday night. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

Japanese winger Furuhashi, who made his Celtic debut as a late substitute in Saturday’s 2-1 Premiership defeat at Hearts, has been backed by Nakamura to shine in Scottish football.

Nakamura enjoyed a memorable four-year stint with Celtic from 2005 to 2009 which saw him win six major domestic honours and be named Scotland’s Player of the Year in 2007.

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“Shunsuke is a legend, not only in Japan but here at Celtic,” said Furuhashi. “He’s a great player – and he’s still playing now (at the age of 43) for Yokohama FC.

“He has given the supporters a lot of memories over the years at all of the clubs he has been at.

“It’s a huge motivation of mine to work hard here but he told me I can be as successful as he was at Celtic.

“I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to talk to him a couple of times since I signed. He just told me to be myself. A lot of things will happen but he said, ‘you can do it’. I have confidence in myself that I can achieve a lot here.”

Furuhashi was also encouraged to make his £4.6 million move to Celtic from Vissel Kobe by Spanish midfield icon Andres Iniesta, a team-mate at the J-League club.

“Iniesta is a teacher, a big brother and family to me,” added the 26-year-old. “I have great respect for him. We played a lot together at Kobe.

“He’s a quiet person but I learned a lot from him. I feel a special connection with him and really enjoyed playing alongside him.

“He played at Celtic Park with Barcelona and he told me the power of the supporters was huge. For him, Celtic Park was a tough stadium but for me being on their side and being part of Celtic makes me excited.”

Furuhashi admits the frenetic nature of Scottish football was an eye opener for him at Tynecastle.

“This was my first time playing in a foreign league and it was different,” he said. “My first impression was it’s a tough, physical contest with a lot of speed.

“It’s very physical compared to the J-League and the contact is hard. You certainly feel the difference, not only in the game but even in the training.

“It’s really interesting for me to adapt and play my game. I am sure I can cope with the physical side.”

Furuhashi is relishing the prospect of playing under Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou, having previously scored for Vissel Kobe against the Greek coach’s Yokohama F Marinos side in a Japanese Super Cup victory last year.

“Thankfully, he did not hold a grudge!,” smiled Furuhashi. “The manager created a very interesting style of football with Marinos and of course he won the league.

“It was always a tough club to play against. I’m just excited I’m now in his team and I get to be part of his style.

“He brought me over here and he believes I can be part of it. The manager has brought me here to play in the wide areas but I am always thinking about scoring goals.”

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