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A masterful play born out of respect - Always have respect Vol.106

28 March 2022

A masterful play born out of respect - Always have respect Vol.106

With European football resuming after a short break, the main focus for Japanese fans was probably on the Scottish Premiership powerhouse Celtic FC, who acquired three players from the J. League, IDEGUCHI Yosuke, MAEDA Daizen, and HATATE Reo.

Combined with FURUHASHI Kyogo, who joined the club last summer and immediately made an impact to become one of the club’s biggest stars, this was the first time that a first division club in Europe has had four Japanese players at once, apart from Sint-Truidense VV of Belgium, which is owned by a Japanese company. It was surprising that such a prestigious club that shares popularity with Rangers FC in a country that has the longest footballing history second only to England, would take such a drastic step to acquire multiple Japanese players.

And the results exceeded expectations. Although Furuhashi was absent due to injury, Maeda and Hatate started in Celtic’s first match after the break against Hibernian FC, with Ideguchi also making an appearance as a substitute to help the team win 2-0. With Maeda scoring the opening goal in the early minutes and Hatate being named the man of the match, the performances showcased by the Japanese players have certainly lived up to the trust of coach Ange POSTECOGLOU, who led Yokohama F. Marinos in the J. League until the middle of last year.

In this match, it was Hatate's play in the early minutes that caught my attention.

When Celtic’s left-back Greg TAYLOR carried the ball on the left side of the field, Hatate began to position himself to receive the ball, moving outwards from the “shadow” of an opposing player. However, Taylor passed the ball to Callum MCGREGOR who provided support from the inside. Hatate then made a sharp turn and dropped back to receive the ball from McGregor. The sharpness of his movement and the timing to free himself up were textbook perfect.

But this time, McGregor chose to deliver a pass to Maeda, who came down into the space beyond Hatate. The moment the pass was released, Hatate again changed his angle to move across the pitch, positioning himself to receive a pass from Maeda. And when he saw Maeda drop the ball, Hatate looked up to his right and drove a 40-metre pass with his first touch, picking out Liel ABADA in the right side of the field. Although this play did not lead to a goal, it was a great offensive display with beautiful flow and pace. The key player was, of course, Hatate.

My takeaway from this play was that “respect make a great play.”

Hatate made a run to offer support for Taylor, before rerouting his run to support McGregor. Although Hatate was open on both occasions, the two players chose to pass the ball to a different player. When players do not receive the ball after making a run, we often see them get frustrated and stop running.

However, football is a game in which the player on the ball decides which play to do. Even if you think they should play in a certain way, the player on the ball has the right to choose what he/she thinks is best at the moment. You have to respect that choice, and decide what you should do next.

During this particular sequence of play, Hatate made three moves within a span of three seconds. While observing his teammates’ decisions, he instantly rerouted his run multiple times, and by the time the ball came to him on his third move, he had a clear “vision” of a breakthrough. If he had been frustrated at any given moment during the sequence, then this beautiful play would have never happened.

I initially wondered why I thought that this play was born out of “respect.” However, I have come to realise that in order to make a series of quick decisions, we need to be prepared to accept the decisions of our teammates, and it occurred to me that this process of acceptance is part of the integral essence of “respect.”

Written by OSUMI Yoshiyuki (Football Journalist)

*This article was originally posted on the Japan Football Association Newsletter, “JFAnews,” February 2022 edition.

Japan Football Association Newsletter “JFAnews”

The Japan Football Association Newsletter “JFAnews” contains all the information on the Japan National Team, and all the events hosted by the JFA. Tournament results and team information throughout the nation are also available. The official monthly magazine is a must read for coaches, referees, and all members of the football family.

For information on the newest edition (Japanese website)

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