DAIZEN MAEDA overcame an attack of the jitters to mark his Celtic debut with a goal inside four minutes in the 2-0 win over Hibs at Parkhead last night.
The Japanese new Bhoy admitted he managed to turn it to his advantage as he prepared to play in front of a packed audience in the east end of Glasgow for the first time since his arrival on Hogmanay along with compariots Reo Hatate and Yosuke Ideguchi.
Madea, twice capped by Japan, seized his moment when he first-timed a crisp delivery from Tom Rogic behind helpless keeper Matt Macey who also had to retrieve the ball 21 minutes later after Josip Juranovic had expertly converted a penalty-kick.
I’M IN PARADISE…Daizen Maeda celebrates his first Celtic goal.
Now the 24-year attack-leader wants to prove Ange Postecoglou’s judgement correct for the second time after the Greek-Australian gaffer bought him for Yokohama F Marinos in February last year.
Maeda admitted: “I was nervous before the game, but I thought I could score a goal. I usually don’t get nervous, but, fortunately, I could convert that feeling into good energy.
“Before the game, I decided I would score a goal. I received a good pass from my team-mate and I just finished.
“I’m very happy to score and contribute to the team. I’m looking forward to the next few games and contributing more.
“I have to score a lot of goals. If not, the team can’t reach to become champions and I want to be a player who can lead Celtic.”
Maeda, speaking to the Celtic website, added: “If we want to be champions, we have to be a good team and we have to keep scoring, no matter who plays.
ALL WRAPPED UP…Daizen Maeda on the pitch at the completion of the 2-0 win.
“I know the manager, but that doesn’t mean I can always be playing. There’s competition inside the team and in training. I have to show my quality, but I know his style very well and I know we can play much better.
“I’m a player with heart. I want to show how I fight against the other team to all the fans.
“All my team-mates have impressed me and we’ve had good training sessions.
“Now, if we can continue to play together on more occasions then we can play much better than we are now.”
Maeda is now likely to make his Scottish baptism at Alloa on Saturday evening and another good performance could see him lead the line in the enforced absence of hamstring victim Kyogo Furuhashi.
No date has been determined for the 16-goal marksman to make his comeback after he limped off early in the 3-1 win over St Johnstone in Perth on Boxing Day.
In the meantime, Maeda can settle into life as a Celt and focus on the next game.