Celtic star Kyogo reflects on what he learned playing alongside World Cup winner

By Lewis Laird

September 22, 2022

Celtic striker Kyogo Furuhashi has opened up on how much he learned working alongside former Barcelona and Spain forward David Villa.

During his first 12 months at Parkhead, Furuhashi caught the imagination of the Celtic support with his goalscoring ability under Ange Postecoglou.

The 27-year-old was one of the Australian’s first signings as part of the Celtic rebuild, and what an addition he turned out to be.

Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

Whilst the Celtic supporters might not have known much about Kyogo from his time in Japan, it certainly seems like he had quite the rollercoaster during the early days of his career.

At the age of 22, the Celtic star almost gave up on football completely before being given his opportunity at J2 League side Gifu in 2017.

From there, the Japanese internationalist’s career kicked off, and within a year, he joined top-flight side Vissel Kobe, where he would spend the next three seasons.

During his time at Vissel, Kyogo would work alongside some fantastic players, such as former Arsenal man Lukas Podolski and, most notably, Andreas Iniesta, who the Hoops forward held a close relationship with.

Many Celtic fans were aware of Iniesta’s presence at Vissel Kobe, where he remains to this day. However, the legendary midfielder wasn’t the only Barcelona and Spanish great he played alongside.

Between 2019-2020, 98-time capped Spaniard David Villa spent time at the club, and Kyogo learned a lot from the man who scored 338 goals in his 665 appearances as a player [Transfermarkt].

Photo by Masashi Hara/Getty Images

During their one-year spell together, Kyogo and Villa led the J-League side to trophy success, lifting the 2019 Emperor’s Cup, which was the ex-Barca attacker’s final piece of silverware before retirement.

Speaking in a recent interview, Kyogo reflected on the experience of playing alongside a world-class striker like David Villa and shared what he had learned from that time.

He said [as quoted by Abema Times]: “Every day I watched his play and stole it. Shooting patterns, positioning, etc. I can’t talk about it, but I was able to watch (play) up close, so I was studying by watching it.

“His goal patterns are very diverse. It’s really good, and seeing that, I wonder if I’m doing something in my own way.”

“Since he is not tall, his positioning was really good. I watched it and studied, and I’m still studying, but I’m studying a lot about positioning that opponents can’t catch in Scotland and how to get involved in scoring from unpleasant positioning.”

Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

One of Kyogo’s key attributes is his speed of thought and movement, so it is interesting to see that he picked up some tips from his time playing with Villa.

And who better to learn from than a man who scored over 300 goals during his career and lifted several pieces of silverware whilst leading the line for his nation?

After a strong start to the season, Kyogo will be hoping to add even more goals to his game and go further than the 20 he notched for the Hoops last campaign.

Scottish Premiership defenders might have the better of the Celtic man physically, but Kyogo’s intelligence almost always shines through, producing some fantastic goals over the last year.

With a place at the World Cup also up for grabs later this year, the Celtic star will be looking to take his game to the next level, and by the sounds of things, he has David Villa to thank for that, with the tips he provided from his time playing in Japan.

In other news, Celtic coach takes up Scotland assistant management role.