REO HATATE has just won a League Cup winner’s medal and been voted the SPFL’s Player of the Month for February.

Celtic’s Japanese midfielder may also be in the running for another award – the biggest understatement of the season.

The impressive 25-year-old performer, who has hit the ground running at the champions since his arrival in January last year, has been a star performer in recent weeks and admitted: “I think I’m doing pretty well.”

A HELPING HAND…Joe Hart assists team-mate Reo Hatate after the midfielder had been downed in a challenge during the 4-0 win over Hibs at Easter Road in December.

The Ibrox midfield that attempted to curtail his inventiveness and all-round quality during the Viaplay League Cup Final at Hampden on Sunday may just reluctantly agree.

Hatate was all over the playing surface as he tackled, won possession and spread passes with magisterial ease as rivals chased shadows.

When Aaron Mooy slid the ball in his direction as he peeled off to the left in the 56th minute there was a hush of expectancy inside the bowl of the national stadium.

Hatate whipped in an exquisite low cross and Kyogo Furuhashi arrived right on time to place an effort in the net from close range with the Ibrox rearguard shredded.

Accepting his personal award for his endeavours last month, the modest middle-of-the-park operator was swift to share the acclaim.

Hatate said: “Every time I play, I do my best and it’s an honour to have this award.

BY THE RIGHT…Reo Hatate fires in a shot in an effort to add to his goal tally.

“In every training and practice I do my best and I really enjoy the moments with my team-mates. Football is a sport with 11 players, so it’s not only my effort but a huge thanks to my team-mates.

“I really enjoy working with the manager and he gives me a new challenge every game which brings me to a new higher level.

“There are good and bad moments, but if I can improve on the bad things then I can bring myself to another level, so I will work hard and try my best.

“I think I’m doing pretty well and I’m a player who can make a difference in the final third. That’s the key for the team, as well, so I want a good number in terms of goals and assists.”

Hatate will now turn his attention to St Mirren in Paisley at noon tomorrow and, speaking to Celtic TV, the Japanese international added: “It’s pretty obvious that the Final gives me confidence, but my focus is just on Sunday’s game right now.

“It was a happy moment and I celebrated with my family and friends until the next day.

“Right after that, the training started and it was easy for me to turn up again and switch on.

“We lost against St Mirren this season at their home and we can’t repeat that again, so we will do our best and try and get the result we want.”

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