KYOGO FURUHASHI has revealed how his Celtic team-mates rallied round after he had been left out Japan’s World Cup squad.

The 27-year-old Hoops talisman hoped to be lining up alongside Daizen Maeda when his nation kick off their quest for glory in Qatar with a game against Germany.

Kyogo, though, was overlooked by international head coach Hajime Moriyasu for the soccer showpiece. Colleague Reo Hatate was another unexpected omission from the pool of players who will also take on Spain and Costa Rica in Group E.

The fans’ favourite admitted: “My dream and my goal was to play in the World Cup. Of course, I was extremely disappointed and shocked. But this is no time to stay depressed.

SMILES BETTER…Kyogo Furuhashi gets lift-off from team-mate Liel Abada after netting one of his first-half hat-trick in the 9-0 romp against Dundee United at Tannadice in August. The Israeli winger claimed a trio of his own after the break.

“My football life doesn’t end here. Now I have to move forward. I woke up early in the morning at home in Scotland to watch the press conference announcing the members of the national team, but my name was not called.

“I was preparing for the Champions League match against Real Madrid, so I tried not to think about it and concentrated on the game in front of me.

“During this time, my Celtic team-mates were very supportive. I felt that everyone cared about me a lot.

“It would be selfish to stay depressed forever and it would cause trouble for the team. My motto is to smile and I kept saying ‘don’t worry’ and tried to keep a smile on my face.”

Kyogo continued: “When I went home after the game against Real, I had the next day off. I decided to use that one day to cheer myself up.

PYRAMID OF PLEASURE…Kyogo Furuhashi celebrates another strike with the fans.

“We watched films and played games. I spent the rest of the day lounging around at home. And by the time I went to training the next morning, I felt okay.

“The World Cup is a stage I have dreamt of playing in since I was a child. When I was called up to the national team for the first time in 2019, my dream turned into a goal. And every time I got selected for the squad, I felt I was getting closer.

“I moved to Celtic last summer because I wanted to play abroad and at the same time I wanted to play in the World Cup. I thought that if I played well abroad, the World Cup would be an extension of that.

“But I wasn’t good enough. I had chances to play for the national team in the past, but I didn’t make any tangible difference in terms of being a goalscorer. I have no regrets about the path I chose.

“Looking back, four years ago, when the tournament was held in Russia, I was still with FC Gifu in the Second Division.

JOY BHOY…Kyogo Furuhashi enjoys the aftermath celebration.

“At the time, I couldn’t have imagined that I would be feeling such regret four years later. So, it’s great that I was able to experience this feeling. I can’t think about four years from now, but I am motivated to grow into a player who will be selected for the next edition.

“I will support Japan as a fan. There are players who have fought with me carrying the flag of Japan on their shoulders. I really want them to make it to the last eight for the first time.”

Concentrating on Celtic, Kyogo, writing in a column in Japanese newspaper Mainichi Shimbun, added: “Last season I scored 12 league goals. This season, I have already reached 10, so I think if I can score 15 I will have had a better season.

“I feel that if I get over 15 goals next time, I can surpass what I did last year.

“I just want to get better and give something back to everyone. I can do my best because so many people support me and give me love.”

HANDS UP IF YOU’RE HAPPY…Kyogo Furuhashi and team-mates Filipe Jota, Matt O’Riley, Aaron Mooy and Liel Abada enjoy a Highland Fling in Dingwall after the 3-1 league win over Ross County in August.

Kyogo, who cost £4.6million when he arrived from Vissel Kobe in July last year, completed the previous campaign as the champions’ top scorer with 20 goals, despite missing over three months of the season with knee and hamstring problems.

He netted one more than Giorgos Giakoumakis who had a superb second half of the term after struggling with injury following his £2.5million purchase from Dutch side VVV-Venlo.

The Japanese and Greek frontline raiders have been vying for the main striking position with Ange Postecoglou rotating the forwards since the beginning of the season.

Kyogo is four league goals ahead of Giakoumakis in an intriguing personal duel.

Both could bolster their totals when the Hoops take on Aberdeen at Pittodrie on Saturday December 17 when the Premiership restarts after the World Cup interruption.

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