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Home|Football News|Scottish Premier League|Shunsuke Nakamura

Shunsuke at Celtic

Shunsuke Nakamura's move North

Scottish Premier League "Oh, it's so Japaneasy," is the little ditty that the Celtic fans have coined to laud the contribution Shunsuke Nakamura makes to Gordon Strachan's side, and certainly the midfielder is capable of putting a smile on the faces of supporters who feared they would spend this campaign frowning in the rain.

Since the departure of Martin O'Neill at the end of last season and the dramatic, cruel collapse in the final day of the season in which the Championship was conceded at Fir Park, there were doubts about what the immediate future held.

The arrival of Strachan in place of O'Neill - a man worshipped by the Hoops - met with a lukewarm reaction and by the time that Celtic had crashed out of Europe at the ignominious first hurdle and drew their first game of the season 4-4, ironically at Fir Park, the daggers were threatening to come out.

It is to Strachan's credit that he has slowly started to turn things around and the capture of Nakamura, after a long running transfer saga, was one of the moves that started to garner him some approval in the eyes of the support.

The little midfielder is slowly easing his way into a city that likes to lay claim to its footballers, but if he has found the zestful manner of the support overbearing he has not been letting on.

The Japanese midfielder revealed in the pages of the official club magazine, The Celtic View, that he would even contemplate extending his contract with the Hoops, such is the manner in which he has acclimatised to life in the West of Scotland.

Nakamura's arrival at Celtic Park from Reggina prompted a wave of excitement throughout the Hoops support and it's easy to understand why; not since Henrik Larsson have Celtic fans had a hero to worship and the job description that came with Nakamura promised that this is exactly what he would be.

To date, he hasn't disappointed them. His debut against Dundee United was hailed by Celtic manager Gordon Strachan as one of the best he had seen, while his subtle touches and creative craft were thoroughly enjoyed by the Hoops support.

Indeed, he could have marked his debut with a goal inside the opening few minutes bar a desperate goalline clearance, but when he did get his first goal for the club - against Dunfermline at East End Park in a romping 4-0 win - he enjoyed the celebration as much as the travelling support.

To give Nakamura his context within the place of Celtic, it has to be pointed out that this is a club whose support have long feted those who can offer something a little different with the ball at their feet.

Jimmy Johnstone, the mazey winger of the 60s and part of the legendary Lisbon Lions who were the first British team to lift the European Cup, had a bamboozling repertoire of skill, to the extent that his opponents often resorted to illegal means at hindering his progress.

More recently, Lubomir Moravcik - who once trapped the ball with his backside in one game and scored straight from a corner kick in another - came second in the popularity stakes only to Larsson.

Larsson was a hero in Glasgow not just because of the 242 goals he scored in 315 appearances, but for his application, his skill, his determination and his ease at bringing out the best in those around him.

If Nakamura came make a similar impact he will find himself the recipient of an adoring public, but for that to happen he has to be at ease on and off the pitch.

His wife and baby son are expected to join him in Glasgow in November and it is a day he can't wait for.

"I think I will play better once they are over here and with me," he said. "Until then I will just have to keep sending and receiving video messages on my mobile phone. I record clips of 40 seconds to a minute and they so the same for me. My phone bill is big but I don't worry about the money."

The Scottish diet hasn't quite been sampled by Nakamura although he has admitted that he will get around to sampling some haggis sooner or later.

"Haggis. Is that a type of sausage?" he queried. "I'm sure I will try it sometime because I eat anything. When you go into town there are lots of Japanese, Italian and Indian restaurants - everything. I have been taken to Oko, a Japanese restaurant, once or twice and it is very good. There was nothing like that in Italy - not even one Japanese restaurant. So I had to bring Japanese food and cook for myself but Glasgow is much better. The weather might be a bit cold but I'm pleased to be here."

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