Reo Hatate explains Scottish football to Japanese audience; enjoying life at "faster" Celtic
Celtic midfielder Reo Hatate has compared his experiences at Parkhead with his time in his homeland with Kawasaki Frontale.
Hatate managed to win 2 J-League championship titles with his former club before moving to Glasgow in January 2022. Reo would then play a big part in bringing the Scottish Premiership trophy back to Parkhead also.
It’s been an interesting integration into Scottish life for Hatate, who had both ups and downs in terms of individual performances in his first 5 months in Glasgow.
However, he’s been speaking to Japanese media about the quality of Scottish football as he compared it with the J-League. As quoted by Sportiva Shueisha, Reo said: “With Celtic undefeated since January and winning the league, some people in Japan may see the Scottish Premier League as being of a lower level. But when you actually experience it, it is different. Sometimes we won games 7-0 or 6-0, but games against opponents at the lower end of the table were neither comfortable nor easy wins.
“The teams at the bottom of the table, when they play Celtic, they come at us with the attitude that they want to create an upset. The lower-ranked teams will look for their own way to win, for example, by creating defensive blocks and countering with lower-ranked teams. I felt that kind of dominance from my opponents when I was playing for Frontale as league champions, and now that I am playing for Celtic, I feel the same motivation from my opponents.
“Just as there is no right answer in football, I feel that the style Celtic are aiming for is football, and the style I embodied at Frontale is also football. Since I have only played for these two teams as a professional, I can’t help but make comparisons. But Celtic’s speed of play was faster than Frontale’s. The speed of going towards the goal, the speed of getting back to defend, the speed of going for the ball. Every part of the game felt “faster” than when I experienced it on the pitch in Japan.”
Reo Hatate opens up on “faster” football at Celtic Park
The J-League is widely known as the best league in Asian football. It’s of a fine standard with plenty of top leagues around Europe plucking top Japanese talents that were made there.
Celtic look to be joining in that trend too after plundering Japan for 4 signings last summer. We all know it’s an area of the world Ange Postecoglou knows well after his time with Yokohama Marinos. However, it’s interesting to see that Hatate feels the style of football in Scotland is faster.
We know we have good players and difficult teams in this country. But it’s often only us who actually preach it. Having players talk up our game who have come from a fine league such as Reo is a boost for Scottish football. He’s effectively schooling the Japanese audience on the quality of the game over here.
And you can see given some of the difficulties both Hatate and even Daizen Maeda had that there needed to be a period of adaption. Playing for Celtic was always going to be a step-up for all of our Japanese signings. They were brought to a level of football and intensity that they won’t have experienced in their careers.
But neither would they have been brought here if Ange Postecoglou didn’t believe they could offer something major to the cause in the long-term. Hatate has plenty of faith going into him from the manager, and he’ll be taking comfort from that.
It’s going to be absolutely fascinating to see what kind of player he evolves into next year.