Sunday, May 27, 2007

Naka brings silverware, financial rewards to Celtic

Shunsuke Nakamura has now helped Scottish Premier League club Celtic to two premierships, one League Cup, and today's Scottish Cup and helped the Hoops to reach the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League for the first time. The 28-year-old playmaker is the first Japanese to score in the Champions League, which he did against Manchester United on 13 September last year, and the first Japanese to win back-to-back league titles outside Japan. Since his arrival at Celtic Park from Italy's Reggina in 2005, Japanese journalists have been a fixture at all Celtic games. "Everybody in Japan knows him, even people who have no interest in football at all. He transcends the game," said Naoki Chiba, a London-based sports writer with the Yomiuri Shimbun, the world's best-selling newspaper at 10 million copies per day.

"If all Nakamura's attributes make him a coveted man - and Tottenham are the last club reported to be interested, for a fee upwards of £6 million - then one of the more remarkable aspects of his time is Glasgow is that he has paid his own way. Certainly Celtic are well on the way to recouping the £2.7 million they paid via direct Naka-related income," commented Nick Harris in The Independent. "In his first season they made around £400,000 on commercial deals from Nakamura. That has increased this season. They also made £1 million-plus for an exhibition game in Tokyo at the start of this season. Reggina sold 130,000 Nakamura shirts in Japan. Celtic will outstrip that, and also have a profitable Japanese-language website."

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