Celtic star Reo Hatate has spoken of his dream of emulating his fellow countryman Shunsuke Nakamura’s achievements in the Champions League for the Hoops.
Hatate spoke at JD Sports in Glasgow alongside fellow Celtic stars Matt O’Riley, Liel Abada and Anthony Ralston on the eve of the Champions League Group Stage draw, with the 24 year old mentioning Nakamura’s winner against Man United in 2006 in specific.
As reported by The Daily Record, Hatate said: “I still remember the goal that Shunsuke scored. It’s one of the most famous goals ever scored by a Japanese player. It’s fantastic for me to now be playing on that stage. A goal in any game is very important whether it’s a domestic game or the Champions League.
“But my countryman achieved a great thing by scoring that goal that night and I’d like to make my mark in the competition by scoring a goal like that. It would be great to create history like Nakamura did.”
Despite the World Cup looming large on the horizon, and Hatate very much in the mix for a spot the Samurai Blue squad, the Japan international is fully focussed on matters in Scotland, with Celtic’s fixture list set to hot up in the coming weeks.
He said: “It would be a great honour if I could play for Japan at the World Cup. It’s the biggest stage in international football and, of course, once you play for your country once it becomes your ambition.
“But for me, the most important thing right now is to play very well for Celtic. To have a chance of playing at the World Cup, I have to give absolutely everything I can for my club in the next few months.
“If I’m not playing well there it will be difficult for the national coach to select me. But, of course, I hope to make the squad.
“Playing in the Champions League can help me do that as it’s the biggest stage in club football. Every game is watched all over the world. It’s been a big dream for me since I was a kid. The opportunity to play in it is one of the reasons I came to Celtic.”
Hatate was arguably the star of Celtic’s pre-season despite only being available for four of the six games, and looked set to light up the Scottish Premiership before his opening day injury in Celtic’s 2-0 win over Aberdeen.
After sitting out the next two wins over Ross County and Kilmarnock, Hatate was given over half an hour from the bench in Celtic’s 2-0 win over Hearts on Sunday, and looks to have fully shaken off that knock.
It would be little surprise to see the Japan international return to the starting line-up for Sunday, when the champions make the trip east to Tannadice to face Dundee United.
In other news: The Celtic advantage Ange Postecoglou will be looking to fully utilise this week
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George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism