REO HATATE reveals he believes he had “a good start” to his Celtic career when he arrived at Parkhead on Hogmanay.

But he admits he could have “performed a little better”.

The midfielder joined on the same day as Japanese countrymen Daizen Maeda and Yosuke Ideguchi as Ange Postecoglou bolstered the squad for the second half of his debut campaign.

All three made their first appearances in the 2-0 victory over Hibs in the east end of Glasgow on January 17 when Hatate won the Man of the Match accolade, Maeda opened the scoring in the fourth minute and Ideguchi settled in as a second-half substitute.

THREE CHEERS…Reo Hatate is flanked by Daizen Maeda and Yosuke Ideguchi as Celtic celebrate their title success following the 6-0 win over Motherwell at Parkhead on May 14.

Hatate reflects he could have contributed more, despite a whirlwind start that saw the 24-year-old left-sided operator score two goals and set up another for Liel Abada in the first-half of the 3-0 romp against Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s Ibrox visitors at the start of February.

The Hoops moved to the Premiership pinnacle for the first time in 18 months that memorable evening – and remained in pole position until the title was won in the 1-1 draw with Dundee United at Tannadice on May 11.

Japanese international Hatate, who was plunged into action shortly after joining from J-League outfit Kawasaki Frontale, admitted: “If I pay close attention to the quality of my own performance, I honestly feel that I may have been able to perform a little better.

“At least I had more expectations for myself. However, I think it was a good start.

“However, there is a lot more I can give to the team.

“The team was in second place when I joined, just a few points from the top.

“After we won an important game against the Rangers, we stayed on top of the standings for good. I think we excelled because everyone on the team worked hard.

JOY BHOY…Reo Hatate celebrates in front of his new supporters.

“Personally, I felt I was able to get some momentum with two goals and one assist in that game against the Rangers. I gained new confidence and I felt that I was finally able to contribute to the team’s victory when it really mattered.

“But I feel I’m contributing more when I’m doing everything I’m capable of, including scoring goals, assisting, and running for the team.”

Hatate, speaking to local media outlet, continued: “I played well in my first few games as I was in a very good condition and the opponents weren’t familiar with how I played.

“After a while, playing started to become more physically demanding. Also, the opponents started to pay more attention to me and mark me more tightly. February and March were tough as I had to play continuously with no time to recover.

“Before I knew it, May was here. I had actually played non-stop for a year and half. I’m grateful my body could hold up and stay healthy.

DERBY DELIGHT…Reo Hatate shows his joy along with Josip Juranovic after his two-goal performance against the Ibrox outfit in February.

“Although my physical condition declined towards the end of the season, I still feel positive that I fought without injury and I was very happy to win the team. However, I also felt regret that I could do more.

“Since I came to Scotland alone, I had a lot of time to think about good and bad and I started thinking calmly about various things.

“I’ve come to read books and watch movies a lot. I came from Japan with a strong desire to succeed in soccer, however, at the same time, I also want to grow as a human being.

“There are many new things to notice, such as cultural and language barriers and how to deal with time alone, so I feel that I am gradually growing as a person.

“Of course, I really feel the growth of soccer every day. Sometimes what you’ve done in Japan doesn’t work at all. It’s not the norm in Japan.

FLY THE FLAG…Reo Hatate smiles and shows his delight after the 1-1 draw with Dundee United at Tannadice on May 11 that secured the title for the tenth time in 11 years. 

“You also need to understand and practice the styles and differences of Scottish football. I think that there is growth while repeating the process of adapting while feeling such things.

“I was good to be able to play in a place with a different culture, environment and style in the new challenge of playing in an overseas club.

“I think that the fact that I was able to face soccer firmly every day without neglecting preparations and care was the reason why I fought for a long time.”

Fans’ favourite Hatate added: “After my transfer, I realised how fortunate I am to be able to play on a pitch in front of 60,000 supporters. I think athletes can shine because of the energy from the fans.

“I had goosebumps when I stood on the pitch of the Celtic’s stadium for the first time. The overwhelming cheers I heard the moment I entered the stadium were deeply moving and unforgettable.

SMILES BETTER…Reo Hatate is getting ready for the new season.

“I also felt a big difference in football culture. When I’m walking down the street, many people talk to me, saying things like: ‘Photo with me? Or sign please?’ You can tell how passionate they are about football.

“As for the future, now that we’ve earned a spot in the Champions League, we need to achieve results. I think my real challenge overseas will begin when I go back to Scotland.

“I’ve only been there six months, so I should be able to have a sense of achievement for living and playing overseas at the end of a full year.

“I’ll continue to do my best in the next season.”

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