DAIZEN MAEDA has revealed the reason he quit the J-League to join Celtic.
The versatile forward, whose £2million deal was rubber-stamped at the end of the season, admitted he could not resist the lure of teaming up again with Ange Postecoglou.
It was the Greek-Australian who took the 24-year-old to Yokohama F Marinos in February last year in a £750,000 switch from Matsumoto Yamaga after an impressive loan period.
FOUR FOR THE ROAD…Celtic’s Japanese quartet Yosuke Ideguchi, Daizen Maeda, Reo Hatate and Kyogo Furuhashi after the 1-1 draw with Dundee United at Tannadice last month that ensured title success.
And he moved again for the international attacker at the tail-end of last year to complete the triple swoop for Maeda and midfielders Reo Hatate and Yosuke Ideguchi with the trio arriving on Hogmanay and being unveiled the following day.
The frontman, who can play through the middle or on the wing, had a year in Europe in season 2019/20 on a temporary transfer at Portuguese outfit Maritimo, but scored only three goals in 33 appearances before returning to Japan.
However, he the perfect start to life in Scotland with the opening goal inside four minutes on his debut against Hibs at Parkhead on January 17. Josip Juranovic added the second from the penalty spot as Postecoglou’s men triumphed 2-0 to get 2022 off to a winning start.
Maeda, who completed the campaign with seven strikes, told Japanese media outlet Number Two: “The main reason I decided to come here was because of coach Postecoglou.
ON THE RUN…powerhouse Daizen Maeda races into attack.
“He is a very big part of my life. I always told him since I was at Marinos that I wanted to play abroad again, so I was willing to give it a chance.
“It is more difficult here than in Japan. Defenders are bigger, stronger, and faster. The pitch conditions are also different.
“And if you don’t score, you will be criticised a lot, and on the other hand, if you do score, they will say: ‘That’s great’.
“The year with Maritimo was amazing. It was an intense year – in life and in soccer. It was good to have that experience and I didn’t feel stressed when I came to Scotland.”
It’s a racing certainty the pacy attacker will add to his reputation with four years to run on his contract at the champions.