CELTIC legend Davie Hay was quick to say Kyogo Furuhashi wouldn’t be a one-season wonder after his initial impact at the club following his £4.6million arrival from Vissel Kobe in July 2021.

Despite a four-month injury lay-off due to two separate injuries, the Japanese striker claimed 20 goals to lead the Hoops to a dramatic Premiership title success while he also took centre stage in the 2-1 League Cup Final victory over Hibs.

Hay hailed Ange Postecoglou’s inspired recruit from the J-League and insisted there was more to come from the lightning-swift attack-leader.

Kyogo delivered again big-style last season as Celtic made world history by becoming the first club to seal eight domestic clean sweeps.

The 29-year-old international collected his 15th goal of the current campaign with a darting header in yesterday’s 3-1 win over St Johnstone at Parkhead as the champions reclaimed pole position.

The former Parkhead player and manager was not one bit surprised by the player’s influence.

In another CQN EXCLUSIVE, Hay, speaking to his long-time friend and author Alex Gordon, who co-wrote the icon’s best-selling autobiography, ‘The Quiet Assassin ‘, emphasised why Kyogo is so absolutely crucial to the hopes and aspirations of everyone of a Celtic persuasion.

The club great said: “A lot has been made over the fall-off in the player’s strike rate this season. Some of the comments have verged on the hysterical.

“No prolific marksman loses that ability overnight and it was only a question of Kyogo getting into his stride again.

“Listen, all goalscorers will have a lean spell, it happens to the very best. I think I know a little about the guys who play at the cutting edge of the team.

NUMBER ONE…Kyogo Furuhashi celebrates his opening goal in the 3-1 win over St Johnstone.

“I was fortunate enough to come through the ranks at Celtic in the much-vaunted Quality Street Gang. I was there when Kenny Dalglish and Lou Macari, two entirely different type of scorers, were also emerging.

“You could identify their qualities even as teenagers. When I broke into the first team, I was featuring alongside the likes of Lisbon Lions Willie Wallace and Bobby Lennox whose statistics tell you all you need to know.

“Plus Big John Hughes was there as a player who scored and made bundles of goals. Dixie Deans, too, came in and was an out-and-out penalty-box player who racked up the strikes.

“As Celtic manager, I bought Mo Johnston from Watford and he did his bit while he was there. Brian McClair, Frank McGarvey, Mark McGhee and Big Rambo, Alan McInally, all chipped in.

“As the club’s chief scout, I was involved in Pierre van Hooijdonk, Jorge Cadete and Paulo di Canio coming to Parkhead.

“So, hopefully, I’ve got a clue when I talk about the attributes of the players in the line-up who are expected to deliver the goods on a match-by-match basis.

“If they hit a barren spell, as they all do, suddenly it’s a crisis.”

HEAD BHOY…Kyogo Furuhashi demonstrates his bravery again as he leaps in front of St Johnstone keeper Dimitar Mitov to nod Celtic into the lead at Parkhead.

Hay turned his attention to Kyogo and continued: “I would have him in the team every time. We all know what he can contribute. He’s a defender’s worst nightmare with his incredible burst of speed and his unerring ability to exploit space in vulnerable areas.

“And he’s a brave wee chap, as well. Look at his goal against St Johnstone yesterday, for instance.

“Nicolas Kuhn flighted in a ball that hung in the air. That’s a situation where goalkeepers have been known to clear out everything as they come for the cross.

“It’s a split-second decision for the attacker. Does he risk getting clattered? Or does he put his head in where it hurts?

“Kyogo didn’t hesitate for a heartbeat. He threw himself into the fray and got his reward when his glancing header flew into the net for the opening goal.

“In a moment, he proved why he has to be one of the first picks on Brendan Rodgers’ team sheet every week.”

Hay added: “I wouldn’t presume to tell the manager who or who not to choose for his line-up. I had enough people giving me that advice on a daily basis when I was in charge.

“But Kyogo is undoubtedly the best Brendan has at his disposal. No disrespect to Adam Idah or Oh Hyeon-gyu, who are hardly similar to their colleague in style or physique.

DERBY WINNER – AGAIN…Kyogo Furuhashi scores a spectacular points-clincher against Philippe Clement’s side at Parkhead in December as he repeats his achievement at Ibrox three months earlier.

“But Kyogo, for me, is the main man. He’s gold dust, the type of player any team would welcome.

“Even if he is not piling in the goals, his sheer pace and electrifying acceleration gets Celtic up the pitch. Just so long as he keeps his eye on the offside law.

“As we know to our cost, there are a lot of flag-happy assistants out there and some eagled-eyed VAR officials scrutinising every move.

“That’s part and parcel of the game, just so long as other teams are expected to play by the same rules.

“Kyogo has now scored 69 goals for Celtic. I wonder how many he will have amassed by the time the final whistle blows on this season?

“There’s no hiding place for the team’s absolute treasure and it’s great to see him going about his business again with his trademark smile”

* TOMORROW: Don’t miss another big EXCLUSIVE from Davie Hay – only in your champion CQN.


Click Here for Comments >

About Author