On and off the pitch Daizen Maeda is doing his utmost to integrate and ingratiate himself with his teammates and the Celtic support. After taking all of four minutes to introduce his predatory goalscoring instincts to 60,000 at Celtic Park, he arrived post-match in the Celtic media room with his interpreter in tow, before dispensing with their services temporarily to say a few words by himself and show the striker is as determined to get to grips with the language as he is opposition defences.
“I am very happy I scored and that I contributed to the team. I am working hard now for the next game and contributing more. Thank you for all your support.”
It might not seem a lot, but on a night where he later admitted to a bout of pre-match nerves it spoke volumes for the character of our new Bhoy.
As reported by Daily Record Daizen explained the calmness he showed in front of goal hadn’t quite married with the pre-match butterflies he experienced as kick-off approached.
“I knew there was a big expectation on me, so I was nervous before the game. I really don’t get nervous, but before the game, I heard a lot of things and a lot of people spoke to me.
“This is why I got nervous, but fortunately, I could convert that feeling into a good energy. That was a good thing for me. I could score the goal and I feel very happy about it. I didn’t imagine that it was going to happen, but I decided before the game that I would. I received a good pass from my team-mate [Tom Rogic] and what I did was just finish it.”
And when asked about the adulation from 60,000 Celtic fans when the ball hit the net and whether that met expectations, Daizen Maeda talked the talk as well as he walked the walk when he said:
“It was much higher.”
And Daizen hit the right notes again. When asked about Reo Hatate’s man of the match performance, Maeda preferred to talk of the quality of all his Celtic teammates and the fact he’s looking to team up with all three of his fellow countrymen alongside him.
“All of my team-mates have impressed me. They all have good quality. We have had good training sessions and the more we play together, the more we can play better than we do now.
“I did enjoy it, but I like to be playing with all of the Japanese players, also Kyogo. So I need to make sure I can keep playing every game and it would be great if we four could all play together at one point.”
Of course, there may be some delay before all four can be on the pitch at the same time with Kyogo’s injury delaying that possibility. In the meantime, Maeda was keen to talk up his fellow Japanese striker’s superior technical ability but ensuring we all go the message as to what traits he will bring to the Ange Postecoglou revolution.
“I am not a player with the technique [of Kyogo]. I am more of a player with my heart. So I want to show how I can fight against the other teams. This is what I want to show to the fans.
“I knew the manager, but that does not mean I can always be a certain player (to play). There is a lot of competition from within the team, so from the training, I have to show my quality. But yes I know the manager’s style very well and I am sure that later we can play much better.”
As far as first impressions go, as a striker there isn’t much more you can do that score with your first chance on your debut, but one thing is clear from Daizen Maeda, he’s as keen to settle in off the park as he is on it, and he’s aware of what he brings to the Postecoglou party. And it appears there is more to come.