CELTIC fans’ favourite Kyogo Furuhashi celebrates his 27th birthday today.

The pacy Japanese striker, a £4.6million arrival from J-League outfit Vissel Kobe in late July, has already won over the Hoops following with his all-action style that has brought a 16-goal haul.

It was a double salvo from Kyogo that won the first silverware of the season as Ange Postecoglou’s side came back from a goal adrift to win 2-1 over Hibs in a dramatic grand finale in the Premier Sports League Cup at Hampden last month.

NATIONAL TREASURE…Kyogo Furuhashi celebrates his first goal against Hibs in the Premier Sports League Cup Final at Hampden last month.

The frontman was determined to play and overcame a troublesome hamstring strain to face the Easter Road men. Asked about the Japanese international’s surprise inclusion in his starting line-up, the Celtic boss answered: “You try keeping him out of the side!”

Kyogo has earned a landslide of praise since arriving on these shores and goalkeeper Joe Hart also paid his tribute to his team-mate’s contribution – on and off the field.

The 34-year-old 75 times-capped England international keeper, who won five major honours in his time at Manchester City, admitted there was a language barrier and said: “There is no getting away from the fact that his English isn’t perfect and he’s from the other side of the world, but he’s such a team player.

“He’s an honest, humble, hard-working individual and a good human being. Kyogo feels our support as a squad.

POINTING THE WAY AHEAD…Kyogo Furuhashi knows where he is heading.

“Okay, maybe we can’t sit there and have conversations with him, but he feels the love from us and he gives it back with his performances.

“Kyogo is a top player. He only really got two chances in the Final and he killed Hibs. It was top centre-forward play and it’s what we needed.

“There is no getting away from the fact he’s our No.1 striker and if he’s available we are very happy.”

Reflecting on the Hampden triumph, Hart added: “Nothing could have kept him out of that game and that’s testament to him.

“He has come back from an injury that could have potentially put him out for a couple of weeks and put himself on the line.

“It was strange. For all the dominance we had, we didn’t particularly penetrate Hibs and then they scored.

“All hell breaks loose, but then the little man takes the chance when he gets it. He’s a top player and he won us the game.”

PRIZE GUY…Kyogo Furuhashi with the newly-won Premier Sports League Cup.

Kyogo is currently on the sidelines after limping off early in the 3-1 win over St Johnstone in Perth on Boxing day.

He missed lining up with his countrymen Daizen Maeda, Reo Hatate and Yosuke Ideguchi in Monday’s 2-0 Premiership victory over Shaun Maloney’s Edinburgh outfit at a rocking Parkhead.

Kyogo will also sit out the Scottish Cup opener at Alloa on Saturday evening, but there will be a treat in store when the Japanese Bhoy is up and flying again.

It’s something for the Celtic support to look forward to with eager anticipation.

Many Happy Returns, Kyogo!

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