'This is who I am'; Celtic star man Hatate on his incredible brace; lauds Hoops supporters

By Euan Davidson

February 3, 2022

Last night’s emphatic win for Celtic against Rangers must surely now be called ‘The Hatate Derby’.

The Japanese midfielder, an absolute steal of a signing from Kawasaki Frontale, was colossal. Two goals and a perfect assist for the Bhoys in just the first half killed the game off. His goals were sublimely taken, especially his second, guided past Allan McGregor’s despairing finger-tips with unbelievable finesse.

As debut Derby performances go, we know there are some lofty examples to follow (yes, you, Moussa Dembele). But Hatate made last night his own, and now he’s suggested he’s not even at full flow just yet.

Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images

Hatate, who somehow wasn’t picked by Japan for the most recent round of qualifiers, has lauded the Celtic support, who were at our rambunctious best last night. Not only that, he’s promised he’s not nearly done yet, after a game-changing showing against Rangers to top the league.

The Celtic star man said [Sun]: “Both goals were very nice for me, especially the second.

“It was pretty much my style because I controlled the ball and I finished the way I always like to. So this is very symbolic of who I am. I am not yet 100 per cent fit, but I really enjoy the style of Celtic.

“In each game, I can do more things and I want to keep improving and do what the manager wants from me… I’ve never played in front of this kind of huge crowd and it feels so good.

“I feel good that I was able to contribute to that victory. I felt the passion of the supporters, it was higher than any other game I’ve played.”

Celtic 3-0 Rangers | LIVE Reaction

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Celtic 3-0 Rangers | LIVE Reaction
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Celtic star man Reo Hatate is making himself undroppable after sparkling display against Rangers

Firstly: imagine having a first month of a new job like Reo Hatate’s had. In just 4 Scottish Premiership games – without playing a full 90 minutes – he’s scored 3 and set up 1.

And, as if anyone needed reminding, the guy is 24. Twenty-four. He’s not even 100% fit yet, but the idea of Hatate controlling and deciding games to an even higher standard is absolutely frightening. What an inspired piece of business from Ange Postecoglou and Michael Nicholson.

It’s almost funny to consider he was being tipped to provide competition at left-back. Instead – and we can say this without hyperbole – he’s turning in Stiliyan Petrov-level performances when Celtic have needed it. He’s been utterly sensational so far.

Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images

But, as he says, that’s who he is. He wants to score goals, he wants to dictate games, and he wants to play in front of atmospheres like last night. It’s hardly lip service, either; you could put any professional player into last night’s game, I guarantee you they won’t have experienced anything like it.

Reo Hatate is the toast of the Celtic support today. And it’ll become a really interesting situation when Ange Postecoglou welcomes back Tom Rogic and David Turnbull to the Celtic squad. On current form, you just don’t drop a guy playing as well as Reo Hatate.

That’ll be sorted with time. For now, Hatate can sit back and think about the time he ran the show in a massively important Celtic victory over Rangers.

Read more: Michael Stewart says Celtic have the momentum after bossing Derby; blasts rivals’ form