Celtic hero Kyogo Furuhashi reveals biggest influence on playing career as ex-Scotland international makes bold Premier League prediction

The Japanese striker has lit up Scottish football this season since joining from Vissel Kobe for £4.6million in the summer

Celtic hero Kyogo Furuhashi revealed Barcelona and Spain legend Andres Iniesta has been the biggest influence on his footballing career.

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The 26-year-old striker has lit up Scottish football this season since joining in the summer after Parkhead boss Ange Postecoglou hand-picked him from the J-League to spearhead the club’s rebuilding project.

Kyogo Furuhashi is a major doubt for Celtic's Premier Sports Cup final against Hibs on Sunday. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

Furuhashi has fulfilled all of his manager’s expectations as he quickly established himself as a fan favourite.

Prior to his arrival in Glasgow, he enjoyed three productive years at Vissel Kobe and Furuhashi described playing alongside a giant of World football helped to improve his game.

Speaking in an interview with one of Celtic’s main sponsors, Dafabet, he admitted: “I have loads (of influences), but maybe Andres Iniesta.

“The reason is because I played with him for two to three years and he brought out the best player in me.

“Not just me, but everyone who played with him grew as football players, so his existence is huge.”

Furuhashi is following in the footsteps of fellow countryman Shunsuke Nakamura, who etched his name into Celtic folklore during his highly-successful four-year spell at Parkhead between 2005-2009.

The Hoops booked their spot in the knockout stages of the Champions League for the very first time back in 2006 thanks to a stunning Shunsuke Nakamura free-kick and a penalty save from Artur Boruc. Supporters had to wait until the 80th minute for a breakthrough, but boy, was it worth the wait. (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Kyogo added: “Of course I knew about Celtic (before I joined). Shunsuke Nakamura left a great legacy playing well for such an amazing club.

“So before I joined I knew Celtic had great supporters. I was shocked when I realised I had an opportunity to join such an amazing team.”

Furuhashi also lifted the lid on his unique celebration he does after scoring, forming a triangle shape with his hands above his head.

The striker has found the net on 16 occasions so far, including two moments of individual brilliance at Hampden Park which saw him compared by supporters to legendary Celtic talisman Henrik Larsson.

Asked why he celebrates goals in that way, he replied: “So it comes from mushrooms.

Celtic’s Kyogo Furuhashi performs his 'mushroom' celebration after scoring against Hibs in the Premier Sports Cup final at Hampden. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

“My hair style resembles round mushrooms so I started doing that. It just spread and became popular. It has become my thing somehow.”

Former Chelsea and Scotland star Pat Nevin reckons Kyogo can emulate Virgil van Dijk by going on to seal a lucrative move to a top Premier League club if he continues to flourish at Celtic.

The £4.6million transfer fee that the Glasgow giants paid for his services has proved a bargain buy and Nevin believes Furuhashi has all the right attributes to play in England, despite his lack of height.

He told the OTB Football Show: “If you put Furuhashi in a good team he scores plenty of goals.

“I really do think that. He’s not the tallest, but I think if you look in the Premier League and the best teams, do you need to be the tallest?

“You need to be somebody that’s got great movement in and around the box. Pacey and in intelligent player. So Furuhashi is all those things.

“There’s a lot of club that will be watching him right this second. I think he’d be best suited for a Liverpool or a Manchester City.

“He’d work really, really well there. I suspect he would probably have to take a step before he made that one.

“He would go to one of the other clubs lower down the table, similar to the way Van Dijk did, from Southampton to Liverpool.

After a difficult start at Celtic, Dutchman Virgil van Dijk has become a hot property. Picture: SNS

“Furuhashi is a player. I used to go on quite a lot about John McGinn and Kieran Tierney. I’ve always felt they were as good as there is in the business.

“Van Dijk was an absolute classic which everyone in Scotland knew about long before everyone else.

“Furuhashi, if I'm looking at Scotland right now, by a distance is the one teams should be looking at.”