SUNDAY, August 29 is a special date in the sights of Celtic new Bhoy Kyogo Furuhashi – the first meeting of the season against Steven Gerrard’s team at Ibrox.
The £4.6million Japanese striker had an 11-minute cameo against Hearts at Tynecastle at the weekend to introduce the 26-year-old international to the rigours of Scottish football.
Furushashi acknowledges it will be a whole new ball-game as he enters football in a foreign country for the first time, but one thing that will remain consistent is his love of the frantic challenges of derby football. The lively frontman understands only too well how important it is to win these city encounters and he is determined to get off to a winning start in Govan at the end of the month.
The pacy attacker has also told boss Ange Postecoglou and the Hoops fans he will “run, run, run” to bring success to the Parkhead side which is undergoing a much-needed summer revamp after last season’s first trophyless campaign in 11 years.
HAPPY BHOY…Kyogo Furuhashi smiles for the camera during his first media conference.
Furuhashi said: “I’m looking forward to the derby. I played in some big derbies in Japan for Vissel Kobe. The games against Osaka were always the biggest and they were very passionate, with so much at stake for the supporters.
“It’s a tough night for fans. I always like to focus on my own performance no matter who I am playing against.”
The player had just arrived in Scotland when he was named as a substitute for the game in Edinburgh and he found himself in the thick of the action when Postecoglou threw him on for another new signing, Liel Abada, in the 79th minute as the visitors went for the winner. Unfortunately, Furushashi was a debut day loser when John Souttar, rising unmarked to a dodgy free-kick, bulleted the winner beyond Scott Bain.
He admitted it was quite the culture shock and accepted the Scottish game is going to take some time to adapt.
The J-League’s top marksman before his switch to the Hoops said: “This was my first time playing in a foreign league and it was different. My first impression was it’s a tough, physical contest with a lot of speed.
“It’s very physical compared to Japan and the contact is hard. You certainly feel the difference, not only in the game but even in the training.
“It’s really interesting for me to adapt and play my game. I am sure I can cope with the physical side.
“But at Celtic we have great players, a great manager, and great fans, so we can unite and be together to be successful.
“I will do my best for the club to achieve that.”
Furuhashi also revealed his Kobe team-mate Andres Iniesta, the Barcelona legend, insisted he should not miss out on the chance to play for Celtic. It’s evident the Spanish genius was blown away by the special atmosphere of Parkhead when he performed there on Champions League alongside Messi and Co.
The lively raider, speaking to the Daily Record, admitted: “Iniesta was a teacher, a big brother and family to me. I have great respect for him. We played a lot together. “He’s a quiet person, but I learned a lot from him. I feel a special connection with him and really enjoyed playing alongside him.
“He encouraged me to come here. He played here with Barcelona and told me the power of the supporters was huge. For him, Celtic Park was a tough, tough stadium, but, for me, being on their side and being part of Celtic makes me excited to experience it.”
Furuhashi had already started English tutorials in his homeland before Celtic’s interest and he aims to make the most of his stay in Scotland as he soaks up the culture.
He said: “I think I would like to learn some golf! I have heard there are some players in the dressing room who like to play and we know Scotland is the home of golf.
“It’s something I’ve always been interested in taking up.
“I think playing golf would be better than trying the whisky!”
Furuhashi is now ready to battle into Postecoglou’s plans and added: “The manager created an extremely interesting style of football with Marinos and, of course, he won the league. It was always a tough club to play against. I’m just excited. I’m now in his team and I get to be part of his style.
“The manager has brought me here to play in the wide areas, but I am always thinking about scoring goals.
“The fans can expect me to run, run run, to create opportunities. I also want to score and become a big name here at Celtic.”