Lubo Moravcik has been every bit as intrigued as any Celtic supporter by the signing of Japanese star, Kyogo Furuhashi.
So much so that the Parkhead legend tapped into his network of contacts in the Far East to find out as much as possible about the internationalist, who can play out wide as well as a central striker.
When he left the Hoops in 2002 after a four-year spell at the club, the Slovakian moved to Japan to play for JEF United for a short spell.
Moravcik hopes that Furuhashi is a hit at Parkhead, and knows that for Celtic to splash out almost £5-million on him from Vissel Kobe means that big things will be expected.
Lubo, 56 last month, told The Sunday Post: “Ange Postecoglou knows about Kyogo, and that has to be a positive.
“Ange has worked in the J-League, and has managed to persuade the best talent in that league to come to Celtic.
“On paper, it looks like an exciting signing. I think that it will also be the same in reality.
“I’ve done my homework, and he is an exciting prospect. The fee paid by Celtic is one of the highest – if not the highest – for any player leaving the J-League.
“The player can operate in wide areas, and can also play as a No. 9.
“He has already scored 14 goals this season, and I’m told he is an excellent technician, with a brilliant first-touch and lovely vision when in possession.
“When I played in Japan, the players were all excellent professionals, and they had a desire to get better every day.
“They were intelligent footballers, too, and very fit.
“But they lacked a wee bit of tactical awareness.
“However, that was nearly 20 years ago, and I know things have improved very much since then.
“But, remember, give the player time. Don’t expect miracles from him in the first few weeks.
“The quality will be there, but there has to be patience with this process of bringing in Kyogo.
“I know there will be immediate comparisons with Shunsuke Nakamura. That is only natural.
“Gordon Strachan signed Shunsuke more than 15 years ago, and I think the fee was around £2.5m.
“If Kyogo can be half as successful as Shunsuke, then everything will be fine.
“He is being hailed as the ‘new Shunsuke’.
“And one or two supporters have even drawn a comparison with my move to Celtic, and hope he can be as good as I was for the club.
“That’s lovely to hear, and a really nice compliment.
“The similarities for me in this transfer are that I was signed by Dr Jo Venglos in 1998.
“Not many people in Scotland had heard of me.
“Indeed, a few people questioned the wisdom of buying me for around £300,000.
“That didn’t bother me. I welcomed the challenge, and it was up to me to show my team-mates and the supporters that I could be an asset.
“With this transfer, Ange knows the player very well. That is the most important thing.
“He is not going on the advice of a friend or another scout. He believes in this transfer 100%.
“That’s the way Dr Venglos was with me. You have to trust the manager, and go with his judgement.
“It’s also a large transfer fee, but the manager has sanctioned it and he must feel the player will be good value.
“I wish Kyogo good luck at Celtic. He is joining a brilliant football club, with outstanding supporters.
“He should love every minute of this new challenge.
“I scored two goals against Rangers in one of my first games for Celtic, and that was so special.
“I’m sure Kyogo would like that to happen to him when Celtic go to Ibrox to play Rangers at the end of August.”
When Moravcik moved from MSV Duisburg, Celtic were the League champions after Wim Jansen’s team had stopped Rangers from doing 10-in-a-row the previous season.
The Ibrox club decided to make a change at the helm, and Walter Smith was replaced by Dick Advocaat.
The Dutchman spent lavishly on players such as Giovanni van Bronckhorst, Arthur Numan, Gabby Amato and Andrei Kanchelskis.
Dr Venglos, in contrast, was appointed just days before the start of the competitive season, and was playing catch-up. It meant that his signings, such as Mark Viduka, Johan Mjallby and Moravcik, didn’t arrive until the campaign was well under way.
Henrik Larsson also stepped up a gear, and really showed the class that would make him a Celtic legend.
But the Hoops lost the title to Gers, albeit by just six points.
Moravcik recalled: “It always felt as though we were playing catch-up with Rangers, and Dr Venglos probably felt that way.
“But we still had belief, and the proof was beating Rangers 5-1 at Parkhead.
“In the end, Rangers won the title. But I have wondered what it would have been like if Dr Venglos had been there from the start of the pre-season, and if he had brought in his signings during June and July, rather than October and November.
“Of course, we will never know. The facts are what they are. We are now in season 2021/22, and Celtic need to fight to get the title back from Rangers.
“Ange has brought in four or five players – but he may well still need another four or five.
“There is a lot of work to be done, and the key to it all is recruitment.
“You need to get most of your players working well, and making a valuable contribution on the park.
“The assessments will start on Tuesday night when Celtic play FC Midtjylland in the Champions League qualifier.
“It is always a very hard process to get through the qualifiers, and this task looks as difficult as ever for Celtic.
“Every Celtic player wants to play in the Champions League. But you need to earn the right to be there.
“The club needs to be firing in every department to make it happen.
“I played in the Champions League for Celtic, and it was very special.
“The night we beat Juventus at Parkhead will always be with me. The stadium was really rocking.
“I hope Kyogo, Ange and the other new people inside the football club can also experience such special occasions in the coming weeks and months.
“If you get it right at Celtic, then it can be the most special thing to be a part of.
“The goodwill and encouragement you receive from the supporters is second to none.
“They are willing you on, every step of the way.
“But there is ground to be made up from last season, and it’s going to take a special effort to win the title back again – and juggle that aim with European football.
“However, as a manager and as a player, you should welcome that challenge, and face it head-on.”
Enjoy the convenience of having The Sunday Post delivered as a digital ePaper straight to your smartphone, tablet or computer.
Subscribe for only £5.49 a month and enjoy all the benefits of the printed paper as a digital replica.Subscribe