Coincidentally, in this case, pro model Hatate is someone who takes his game extremely seriously. He belongs to a generation of footballers who understand that to get the most out of their bodies, they need to adopt a 24-hour athlete mentality. It’s an attitude that’s pervasive across the Celtic squad, with captain Callum McGregor leading the culture from the front.
While past achievers often let others take the reins of their lives, most today see the benefits of taking control, not least the elegant Japanese playmaker Hatate.
Postecoglou said: “He thinks a lot about himself, about his football development, his career, everything.” Everything he does is very measured. Watching him train, he’s not the type to show up for fun. He takes everything in his life very seriously. He’s not the only one. There are a few in there.
“I think modern footballers almost have to be like that. There are so many things that can throw you off track that you need to think about every aspect of your life. That’s football these days. Young players who come through understand that they are now and, more importantly, taking control of many things in their lives that in the past they would have left to other people.”
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Hatate and Kyogo returned from the international wilds and were called up by Japan for last week’s games against Peru and El Salvador. While Daizen Maeda has been regularly selected by the national team, his two compatriots have missed out – despite excelling in the Scottish Premiership. Postecoglou was delighted to see three of his signings back in contention under coach Hajime Moriyasu.
He joked: “Perhaps Scottish football has improved in the last six months… ‘I’m happy for both of them.’ I had no doubt they would get another opportunity. They played outstandingly for us and that is fully deserved. I know they were both disappointed, especially with the World Cup but also with the selection that followed.
“They’re going to love it when they get in there. It’s always great to go into the national team after a season where you’ve won a few medals both as a team and individually. It is a great reward for them.”