DAIZEN MAEDA has seen a world of a difference in his football career in the last 12 months.

The Japanese international forward is poised to face Costa Rica in the World Cup Group E confrontation tomorrow morning after his nation’s sensational 2-1 comeback midweek victory over stunned Germany.

Maeda has stepped into a winter wonderland in Qatar just 11 months after joining the Hoops in a £2million switch from Yokohama F Marinos along with J-League colleagues Reo Hatate and Yosuke Ideguchi.

BLUE BHOY…Daizen Maeda in action for Japan in their 2-1 win over Germany.

It’s been non-stop for the pacy 25-year-old raider who played his part in the Hoops’ tenth title success in 11 years as he hit the ground running in his career in Scotland with a goal inside four minutes on his debut against Hibs when the league restarted on January 17.

It was a winning start for the energetic attacker as Josip Juranovic slotted away a penalty-kick to make certain of a 2-0 win at a rocking Parkhead.

Maeda had the ball in the net behind German legend Manuel Neuer only to have it ruled out for offside, but it didn’t halt Japan on their way to coming back to register a shock result during the global showpiece.

The champions’ electric frontman said: “Of course, four years ago, I never imagined that I could be on that pitch as a starting member and I never imagined it in the past year.

“I really realised that my football life can change in four years and I realised that even one year can change it.

”I couldn’t believe it was me and I was in a situation where I didn’t really understand. I really didn’t imagine it at all – or even in the final qualifying, I didn’t think he would be able to participate. I didn’t know what will happen.

“I think it’s a big deal when I see the reactions around me, but I’m not conscious of the World Cup. I’m playing with a normal mindset, I think.”

HANDS UP IF YOU’RE HAPPY…Daizen Maeda and his triumphant Japanese team-mates on a lap of honour after the World Cup victory over Germany.

Maeda was replaced just before the hour mark with Takuma Asano who went on to hit the late winner to leave Germany’s hopes of progress in jeopardy.

The Celt, speaking in a report in the Daily Record, added: “I don’t think there’s any point in winning against Germany if we don’t win the next match.

“As a team, we know how important the next one is.”

Japan kick off against the Costa Ricans, walloped 7-0 by Spain during the week, at 10am while Hansi Flick’s team take on the rampant Spaniards at 7pm.

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