Celtic’s latest recruit Kyogo Furuhashi has revealed he opted to join the Parkhead club after Vissel Kobe captain Andres Iniesta recommended them to him.
Furuhashi, 26, completed a move to Celtic last month for an undisclosed fee, becoming the seventh signing of new head coach Ange Postecoglou, with the Japan international making his debut in the 2-1 defeat to Hearts on Saturday.
The Jam Tarts snatched three points at the death, handing Postecoglou his worst possible start in the Glasgow hotseat, with that opening-day loss in the Scottish Premiership compounded by their Champions League exit in the second qualifying round.
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Celtic still have the chance to make the Europa League when they face Jablonec in the third qualifying round, starting with a first-leg tie in the Czech Republic on Thursday, and Furuhashi will no doubt be itching to play his part and experience continental club football, as his former skipper did on many an occasion.
Iniesta, 37, currently dons the armband for Vissel Kobe, whom Celtic secured Furuhashi’s services from, having relocated to Japan in 2018 after 16 trophy-laden years at Barcelona, during which time he tussled with the Glaswegians on seven occasions.
The diminutive Spanish genius has been open about his admiration for the Celtic Park crowd, a respect that has aided the club’s transfer policy this summer, with Furuhashi revealing his former captain gave a ringing endorsement of the Scottish club.
“He encouraged me to come here,” Furuhashi said.
Iniesta also gave his view on Furuhashi and what Celtic fans can come to expect of the winger-cum-forward, a player he believes has all the tools to succeed in Europe.
“To be honest, Kyogo absolutely has the talent to play in Europe,” said Iniesta.
“He’s leading the J1’s scoring chart, but it’s not just that. He’s got strong technique, and I believe he can succeed in Europe.
“I’m sure he’s got scouts watching him already, but it’s going to be tough for us because he scores a lot of goals.
“It’ll be tough but if he goes to Europe I’ll be incredibly happy for him, because for Japanese players it’s a dream to play in Europe.”
Iniesta: The atmosphere is one of the best in the world
Celtic famously locked horns with Barcelona in the 2012/13 season under Neil Lennon, meeting the European giants in the Champions League group stages, and The Bhoys would gone on to produce one of the most memorable victories in the club’s history at home.
In front of a raucous Celtic Park audience, Lennon’s men defended resolutely and stung Barca on the counter, winning 2-1 on the night despite Lionel Messi getting on the scoresheet. Although defeat followed the Catalan club, it’s an occasion Iniesta will never forget, given the noise generated from the terraces.
“I remember that well,” he told FourFourTwo.
“One goal from a corner and another on the counter. Football is wonderful for reasons like these – the team who has the ball or the better players doesn’t always win.
“I’ll never forget playing against Celtic, either. The atmosphere is one of the best in the world. I was fortunate to play there several times and it was always so intense.
“It was an honour to play amid such incredible noise.”