New Celtic signing Kyogo Furuhashi has insisted he doesn’t want to be compared with Hoops icon Shunsuke Nakamura because he’s his own man.
The Japanese forward has completed a shock £4.5 million move to Parkhead after Ange Postecoglou swooped to sign the Vissel Kobe talisman.
Furuhashi will be following in the footsteps of much-loved Nakamura, who won six trophies in Glasgow in a four-year spell before moving to Espanyol.
He’s still playing at the age of 43 for Yokohama FC.
He’s been compared to Nakamura in his homeland because of their style of football, but earlier this year he made it clear he wants to carve out a name for himself on his own.
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And he’s praised the impact of Spanish legends David Villa and Andres Iniesta, who were both his team mates at Vissel.
He said: “As a child, my hero was Ronaldinho and swimmers like Ian Thorpe and Michael Phelps, but that all changed once I started playing with David Villa and Andres Iniesta.
“I have been compared with a few players like Shunsuke Nakamura, Hidetoshi Nakata and Keisuke Honda. All three were great players and are legends in Japan.
“But I want to carve my own name in the history books. I don’t want to be the new anyone.
“I consider myself fast, explosive and I can play in any forward position.
“But most of all I absolutely hate losing.
“Much of my education came from playing with Iniesta and Villa. When it was announced they were coming, I thought to myself, ‘am I really going to be playing with these legends I watched on TV?’
“They are spectacular players and have been an absolute treasure for my football development.
“My ultimate aim is to play at the World Cup with Japan and eventually play in La Liga.
“I love Spain, I have visited the country four times and I always watch the matches from there every week. I’ve even started learning to speak Spanish.
“My dream is to play there one day.”
Legendary midfielder Iniesta believes Furuhashi can be a star at Celtic. The Japanese international plays alongside the Barcelona legend for his current club, and has impressed the World Cup winner with his performances.
Considered one of the greatest midfielders ever to grace a pitch, the veteran discussed the potential of Furuhashi moving to the Scottish Premiership this week.
Iniesta said: “To be honest, he absolutely has the talent to play in Europe. He’s leading the J1’s scoring chart, but it’s not just that. He’s got strong technique, and I believe he can succeed in Europe.
“I’m sure he’s got scouts watching him already, but it’s going to be tough for us because he scores a lot of goals!
“It’ll be tough but if he goes to Europe I’ll be incredibly happy for him, because for Japanese players it’s a dream to play in Europe.”
Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou said: “We are delighted to bring Kyogo Furuhashi to Celtic. He is a player of real quality and clearly someone I know well.”