Ange Postecoglou says relationship building was key to securing J League talent for Celtic

By Euan Davidson

March 23, 2022

Ange Postecoglou has explained that relationships and understanding of Japanese culture were integral to Celtic landing four top J League talents.

Since arriving at Celtic, Kyogo Furuhashi, Daizen Maeda, Yosuke Ideguchi and Reo Hatate have been hits. Although Ideguchi had to deal with injury woes, there’s certainly enough evidence to suggest he’ll become a valuable Celtic player.

Kyogo, Maeda and Hatate meanwhile, have all made superb contributions. In vital areas, the trio have given freshness and relentless energy where it had been lacking. They’ve been superb.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

And though Postecoglou was humble about the whole thing, it was never a stretch to suggest he was integral in landing their signatures. Not only that, he said the club had gone to extra efforts to make sure each individual player was able to integrate into their new team.

Postecoglou said [Optus Sports]: “I think if you ask the players we brought here, if you ask them what the major determination was for coming here, it was probably was me.

“Whether I coached – I coached obviously Daizen Maeda, he knew me – but the other guys I’d coach against. And they were more than familiar with what I was doing.

“They’re comfortable that I understand Japanese culture. With the club here, the clubs been really good and, you know, employed a person to help as a player liaison, to help the guys settle in here. So I’m sure that was part of it, but it, again, that’s, I still think that’s just a small investment of a bit of time that somebody else could do as well.

“That hasn’t been there. It’s all about relationships. If you start these relationships and, and, and create as a club, an avenue for players to come here, then they’ll be more comfortable. But like I said, I’ll keep all the secrets to myself mate for the time being, if I can.”

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Ange Postecoglou and his J League knowledge has paid off big time for Celtic

People were always going to make comparisons between any Japanese player Celtic signed, and the legendary Shunsuke Nakamura. Signing Nakamura though, was an entirely different process.

Nakamura had already settled in Europe; he was playing in Serie A for Reggina before Celtic pounced. The closest comparison is Koki Mizuno, who was signed from the J League to Celtic in 2008. Therefore, very sadly, the record of bringing in talent directly from Japan was a brief and unsuccessful experiment.

To try it again 11 years later, though, has worked an absolute treat. The difference now, of course, is Ange Postecoglou and his links to the J League. It seemed obvious he’d utilise his experience for the betterment of wherever he went next. Why wouldn’t he?

Photo by Masashi Hara/Getty Images

Having a manager with such a rounded worldview and set of experiences has hugely benefitted Celtic. Of course, that’s much easier to say in hindsight, and no doubt there was immense surprise when the Hoops hired a J League manager. By the very nature of who Celtic hired, though, it was going to be a different kind of prospect, with a different kind of transfer target.

Ange has had successes in the Russian league, in Portugal, England, Ireland and Israel, in terms of signings. The main story this season, though, has absolutely been Ange Postecoglou revitalising not just Celtic but the league itself with J League talents.

The fans love the players we’ve signed. And to not credit Ange for that would be misguided.

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