Celtic midfielder Reo Hatate has been reflecting on trophy day and what he did whilst his teammates celebrated with their families.
Hatate wasn’t part of the Hoops squad that mauled Motherwell 6-0 to round off the season in an emphatic manner. Indeed, he was being rested after a long and arduous season that had been extended for Reo after competing in a full J-League campaign beforehand.
Weariness showed at times for the Japanese international, but he still played a major role en route to a Premiership title success that won’t ever be forgotten by the Celtic supporters.
And as he looked back at that memorable occasion, Reo explained what it was he did whilst the rest of his teammates lapped it up with their loved ones. As quoted by Sportiva Shueisha, Hatate said: “I didn’t make the squad for the final league game, the triumphant game against Motherwell on 14 May. But the atmosphere created by the fans and supporters at Celtic Park to welcome us to the championship was also incredible. Words cannot describe it.
“My teammates with families seemed to be having a good time, taking photos with their children. As a single person, I had too much time on my hands, so I sat on the podium and watched everyone else’s happiness. It was then that I looked back on the days up to this point in my life. When I became a professional with Frontale, not everything went well from the start, I thought. I remembered that Frontale, like Celtic, struggled as a team and got closer to the title step by step.
“As an individual, I didn’t grab a regular place in the team from my first year. In his second year as a professional, when he started to get more opportunities to play in the first team, he recalled that he became the player he is today by struggling and growing. There are more things that can go wrong than go right when playing abroad. I came to Glasgow with that determination, but the fact that I was able to help Celtic win the league in my first season with them is proof that my previous days were not in vain.”
Reo Hatate needs to give himself more credit for Celtic impact
You get the feeling that Reo’s harshest critic is indeed himself. You can see him here almost trying to justify to himself the kind of impact he made in Glasgow during his first few months here. But it was a lot more seismic than he’s perhaps ready to give himself credit for.
Had Hatate not produced the blistering start to his Celtic career that he had, Rangers likely would’ve ended up winning the title. It still isn’t spoken about enough just how incredible he was in his first Glasgow derby. His 2 goals and assist in the 3-0 Parkhead blitz of Rangers struck fear into the Ibrox crowd.
Not to mention he still managed to nab himself 7 direct goal contributions since arriving from Japan. We shouldn’t be underestimating just how difficult it is for someone like Hatate to make that kind of impact given the cultural and social differences in Glasgow.
There was always an assumption after the start Kyogo had that all J-League signings would be able to hit the ground running with no issues. But that was never going to be the case. Not every individual is the same and that had to be taken into consideration.
Yet Reo is still able to look back on his Celtic career with fondness and achievement so far. He’s already experienced so much in his opening spell in Glasgow.
Hopefully, he gets off to a strong start in pre-season and can look forward to yet more history next year.
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