The Japanese stars lighting up Scottish soccer -- Apr 14

Following the success of the Japanese national team at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, soccer is enjoying increased popularity.

The Japanese sports-loving public cheered as their team made it to the knockout stages of play in the Arab World and are hoping to be back for more of the same at World Cup 2026. The United States, Canada, and Mexico will jointly host that competition. Will Team Japan be there flying the flag for Japanese soccer?

The qualification hasn't started yet, but there's plenty to keep soccer lovers entertained until 2026. J-League games enjoy a global following, with fixtures shown live on TV attracting attention from across the US, United Kingdom, Europe, and beyond. That showing in Qatar also highlighted the wealth of talent in Japan, and Europe's leading club teams have taken note. They want in on the action.

You can make predictions and place bets on the J-League games at leading sportsbooks, including Betus, but there's also a solid Japanese soccer connection across Europe. That's especially true of the Scottish Premiership, where champions Celtic have used the Japanese transfer market wisely.

The Hoops boast several famous Japanese players who have already caught the eye of UK soccer lovers. This page highlights three names to follow in the coming weeks.

Making headlines in Glasgow

Who are the Japanese players who have dazzled UK soccer fans, especially those in Glasgow? What can they bring to the Japanese national team ahead of 2026, and can we expect at least one big-money move from Celtic to the English Premier League? The EPL is the best-followed club soccer competition on earth. It's where the big names perform.

Celtic have several Japanese-born players on their roster, but some have been more successful than others since joining manager Ange Postecoglou at Parkhead. We focus on three success stories from Glasgow and explain how you can watch the next match from the Premiership on your smartphone.

Kyogo Furuhashi

Furuhashi has already proven to be a massive hit in Glasgow, and there are often rumors of a move to a top-six side south of the border. The EPL is where players of Kyogo's quality aim to find employment, and he has done his chances no damage with a Scottish scoring spree.

The 28-year-old forward from Ikoma, Nara, scored 42 goals in 95 appearances for former club Vissel Kobe before Ange took him to the United Kingdom. Since joining the Hoops, Kyogo has found the net 32 times in 48 games and counting. He's an essential part of the success at Celtic, and the club hopes to keep him around for a crack at the UEFA Champions League next season. That's where Kyogo can start to impress.

Things are going well for the man capped 16 times for Japan, scoring three goals, but the goal machine isn't the automatic pick you may expect. You won't see him in the Japanese team often, with manager Hajime Moriyasu blaming a lack of quality and proper competition in Scotland.

Kyogo is on course to be the top goalscorer in Scotland this season, and he netted 20 times in 28 games, providing a couple of assists. He's hoping to steer Celtic to two-in-a-row and land the golden boot for himself.

Daizen Maeda

Kyogo is one of many internationally capped-Japanese players in the Celtic squad. Winger/Forward Daizen Maeda is another who has settled to life in Scotland without complication. He knows and respects the style of football his manager wants to play and the approach that will bring success in the UK.

Maeda is another fans favorite, and after scoring six goals in 16 appearances while on loan in Glasgow from Yokohama F Marinos, he made his move to Celtic Park permanent. This term, he has scored seven in 28 and has chipped in with a couple of goals for Japan in his 11 caps.

Reo Hatate

He may be one of the younger Japanese players in the squad, but Reo Hatate is already a household name in Scottish soccer. The defensive midfielder has already made over 40 appearances, scoring nine goals, and he has also been called up to the national team.

Hatate made his Champions League debut against Spanish giants Real Madrid, the tournament's most successful team. Blancos blew away the Bhoys, but Hatate's energy and commitment caught the eye.