TOMOKI IWATA won the J-League Player of the Year award just before he agreed to join Celtic on a five-year contract in January.

The versatile midfield performer also lifted titles with Yokohoma F Marinos and had been on his former Japanese club boss Ange Postecoglou’s radar for a time before the deal was sealed.

Iwata has represented his country on four occasions, but the 26-year-old star insists he must prove himself all over again at Parkhead.

The industrious engine room operator started his third game for the Hoops in the 1-1 draw with Motherwell on Saturday where the champions failed to win on their own pitch in a domestic game for the first time in this campaign.

UP, UP AND AWAY…Tomoki Iwata skips past a lunging challenge from Ryan Kent.

Iwata is convinced he and his team-mates can learn from the stalemate to make sure there are no slip-ups in the Scottish Cup semi-final against Michael Beale’s outfit on Sunday.

Captain Callum McGregor gave the team the advantage with a deflected strike midway through the first-half, but some appallingly slack defending allowed Kevin van Veen to claim an equaliser 10 minutes after the interval.

Iwata said: “Of course, I am disappointed to only draw the match. Everything started from the period after we scored our first goal, because we couldn’t score another one.

“I think we made the game difficult by ourselves. Personally speaking, I couldn’t get involved as much as I wanted in the attacking situations during the match.

“I have to improve on that in the future. As a team, as I said before, we should have created more chances. Also, from the chances we did create, we should have scored.

“That’s what I think was missing in comparison with the last few games.”

THE JAPANESE CONNECTION…Kyogo Furuhashi, Reo Hatate, Daizen Maeda, Tomoki Iwata and Yuki Kobayashi celebrate Celtic’s 2-1 League Cup victory at Hampden in February.

Iwata was a second-half substitute when the Hoops beat their city rivals 2-1 in the League Cup Final in February with two goals from his compatriot Kyogo Furuhashi. He also played in the 3-2 league success at Parkhead earlier this month when the pacy striker staged an action replay with another double.

Looking ahead to playing a third game against the Govan club, Iwata, speaking to The Scotsman, continued: “We just have to review what happened in the game against Motherwell and try again to do our attractive football.

“Getting a result is very important. Every minute in the game is going to be important for us. So, we will try and take the opportunity to do everything we can. Our football is very attractive, I think.

“We put in 100 per cent and we just try to win the game every time.

“I have played twice in the derby, in the League Cup Final and in the league derby here at home. There were very good atmospheres in both of the games. Of course, though, it’s very important that we get the result.

“It’s not just about playing in a good atmosphere. Personally, I just need to prepare as well as I can for the next game. I enjoy the pressure because this is something you don’t really get often.

“But at the same time, I just want to perform well in each game. That’s what I need to do in the following games.”

A BIG HAND…Tomoki Iwata acknowledges the Celtic fans.

Iwata, labelled “a tank” by midfield partner Matt O’Riley, won a medal before he had even started a game for Celtic and he is determined to add more honours to his collection.

He concluded: “Winning titles in Japan and getting the Player of the Year award was pretty precious to me.

“Coming here, though, I had to switch my head again. Now I’m with Celtic, I’m trying to achieve something here, but nothing has been done yet.”

Hampden at the weekend will offer Iwata another platform to display his qualities. He is unlikely to pass up the opportunity.

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