Thursday, February 08, 2007

Japan press pack track Nakamura around Scotland

Shunsuke Nakamura's popularity is souring in Japan since he guided his Scottish Premier League club Celtic into the last 16 of the UEFA Champions' League with a stunning free-kick winner against Manchester United. Facing Celtic in a Scottish Cup fourth-round tie, Livingston FC captain Steven Tweed admitted to Phil Gordon of The Independent that the one thing more daunting than facing a Nakamura free-kick: was facing a Japanese press pack.

The 34-year-old defender spent two and a half years in the J-League with Nakamura's former team, Yokohama F Marinos. "Sport is huge in Japan. All the Japanese players in Europe have their own press corps. The same ones who used to follow Junichi Imamoto when he was at Arsenal and Fulham have now gone to Turkey since he moved to Galatasaray," he explained.

Referring to Nakamura as the golden boy of Japanese football, Tweed said he'd had a great season. "His two goals against United sealed that popularity and if the one at Parkhead took Celtic through, it was his free-kick at Old Trafford that is probably more iconic for the Japanese because they are so caught up in Manchester United. The average Japanese could probably tell you more about David Beckham than someone in Manchester."

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