The glut of youth players we have lost to England and Germany in recent years is disappointing but feels far from critical. Great talent seldom emerges above the background noise in the teenage years. For some, it takes a lot longer.
Henrik Larsson was 25 and had endured a season spent mainly as a Feyenoord substitute in 1997. He contemplated returning to Sweden when Wim Jansen took him to Scotland. That development story seems inconceivable; Henrik always had talent, he played a World Cup semi-final three years earlier, but his value was far from obvious, even in a tier two league.
Kyogo was four months older than Henrik when he arrived in Glasgow and had been first choice at Vissel Kobe for just 2.5 years. Vissel took a £150k punt on him from the third tier. His reputation in Europe is still vastly greater than in Japan, where he is a national team outlier.
There is a lot of snobbery in football. Half the scouts in Europe had watched and overlooked Larsson before he came to Celtic. How good could a player that has been watched that many times actually be? He was just shy of his 33rd birthday when Barcelona eventually moved.
I am hopeful we hold onto our double Player of The Year for similar reasons. Kyogo has ‘done it’ in Scotland, but so has Kevin van Veen, the 31-year-old Motherwell great and Scunthorpe journeyman. Snobbery will count against Kyogo, as will his slight build, at least until he troubles goalkeepers in the Champions League.
That day could be here within four months, but before then, Michael Nicholson will want to address the biggest challenge he faces, extending Kyogo’s contract beyond 2025.
The Road to Seville cyclists are nearing the end of their incredible journey. After a greulling day through the Spanish mountains yesterday, they have a more modest 44 mile journey to Talavera de Reina, which is just about the middle point in the country.
More importantly, their efforts have already raised over £64k for the Celtic FC Foundation. That’s an incredible sum which will help the Foundation carry out its life-enhancing work. Today we hear from cyclist Clare Sweeney and Foundation chief executive, Tony Hamilton. They share the values which inspire them in their football and daily lives, and bear witness to what this Celtic thing is all about.