Former Celtic striker Scott McDonald has declared iconic midfielder Shunsuke Nakamura as the best footballer he’s ever played with, in an interview with BBC Radio Scotland today.
Nakamura and McDonald played together during the Gordon Strachan era, helping the Bhoys to a number of league titles and some memorable nights in the Champions League group stages.
The former Japanese international was a creative marvel, also wowing supporters with his exceptional free-kicks, most memorably against Manchester United and Kilmarnock.
McDonald has now highlighted just how much work went into Nakamura’s game at Celtic, sharing anecdotes about his training days at the club.
Speaking to BBC Radio Scotland, the forward said: “Nakamura is by far the best footballer I have ever played with. The hours he used to put in, what a professional he was.
“He used to go out for hours and hours on end, hitting free-kicks after training. His little interpreter would be in the goal trying to replicate the top corner, it was hilarious.
“It’s -2°C outside and he is in there saying, ‘just another one, just another one.’
“I think the thing with Nakamura is he didn’t speak a lot of English, but he was such a perfectionist. If he came off the training field and just felt it was not happening for him he’d be in such a mood the whole day.”
Nakamura left Celtic in 2009 just as he was turning 31 but unbelievably has lengthened a distinguished playing career into his 40s, still playing to this day with Yokohama FC in his homeland.
No doubt that professional dedication in training is a contributing factor and it’s fantastic to hear how committed he was to the Celtic cause at the time.
He made 142 appearances in total for the Hoops, scoring 28 goals and assisting 36 times, making himself a hero with supporters in the process.
There haven’t been many better midfielders to pass through the gates at Celtic Park over the last 20 years and he’ll likely always be fondly remembered by fans.
I now challenge you to go the rest of the day without looking up highlights of his most exceptional goals.
It might be impossible for me personally and my first stop is probably going to be his outrageous effort against Rangers.