Japan-based pundit and inventor of 'elastico' makes bizarre dig at Celtic

By Euan Davidson

February 25, 2022

Japanese-Brazilian pundit Sergio Echigo has claimed that Daizen Maeda, Reo Hatate, Yosuke Ideguchi and Kyogo Furuhashi, need to “get out” of Scotland having joined Celtic from clubs in Japan.

Echigo, the inventor of the ‘elastico’ trick [YouTube] in his playing days, is a former midfielder who played with Corinthians in the 60s. Born in São Paolo to Japanese parents, Echigo made his name as a technically skilled player, who now gives his takes on Japanese football.

Controversially, though, he’s insistent that although players like Reo Hatate and Kyogo Furuhashi have won the hearts of the Celtic faithful, they need to “get out” of the Scottish Premiership.

Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

Echigo said [Yahoo]: “You simply can’t compare the [Scottish Premiership] to Europe’s main leagues – the EPL, La Liga, Serie A and the Bundesliga.

“Because it’s such a famous club, the fans are particularly discerning. Play poorly and you’re destroyed by the media. Foreign players, especially, are called upon to produce immediate results. In that sense, Hatate and Maeda have succeeded and won the hearts of Celtic fans.

“But from the perspective of leveling up Japan’s national team and J-soccer as a whole, Furuhashi and company can’t be satisfied with where they’re at. What’s important is that they keep performing as they have been and step up to better leagues and clubs.

“Without challenging himself [at Roma], [Hidetoshi] Nakata couldn’t know how far he was from being world-class. I hope that going forward, our players can reach that level. And it’s because of that that I hope Hatate, Maeda and Furuhashi aim to get out of Scotland ASAP.”

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67 Hail Hail (Youtube)

This is no compliment to the Celtic players from Japan, and it’s typically uninformed stuff

We’re used to this, of course. Last season, Norway manager Stale Solbakken had his say on Kristoffer Ajer and Celtic. John Kennedy gave a particularly passionate response on that occasion.

For one thing, this isn’t the compliment it’s intended to be. It suggests that Ideguchi, Hatate, Kyogo and Maeda have all made bad decisions in coming to Celtic. That the standard isn’t good enough, that there’s no hope of progression for them here.

This is patently nonsense. Celtic has been a proving ground for some fantastic talents in recent seasons. Look at Kieran Tierney and Virgil van Dijk; two of the best players in their position in world football. That was after a few seasons of progressing and impressing at Celtic.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

The idea that immediately, the quartet of Celtic players signed from the J-League need to immediately move on for the sake of their careers is just nonsense. So, too, is the idea that they’re under more scrutiny. Each has been utterly embraced by the support. The presence of Japan flags at Celtic games says so much.

It’s almost worth not humouring this kind of nonsense. Not only is it woefully mistimed, given how recently each player has moved from Japan to Celtic. It’s also a bizarre generalisation about their skill-set, and what they’re capable of at Celtic. The idea that each player would come here and stroll it isn’t based on anything.

Each talent still has so much to prove at Celtic. And, if the Scottish Premiership was such a bad standard, why would the players concerned move here at all?

This is ill-informed, inarticulately phrased nonsense. Of course, we’re used to folk talking down our game. It’s just a particularly strange way to do it.

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