In our time as Celtic fans, many of us have seen truly great players. There is a generation that never saw a Larsson or a Lubo just as my generation never saw a Jimmy Johnstone running down the wing or remembers a Kenny Dalglish scoring goals.
Yet every generation has its favourites regardless. I used to wonder if I’d ever watch a truly world class footballer at Celtic, and then by God I got to watch two of them. Just knowing that makes me think I will see at least one more. Some generations get lucky like that.
Nobody thinks Kyogo is from that bracket. Nobody is saying that. But already he’s a fan favourite and already he looks a cut above every other player in this league. The Larsson comparisons are obvious in the way he plays, the way he reads the game, his strength on the ball, his ability to beat players and the way he can put the ball in the net.
He is miles from us being able to truly compare the two, but I am more excited about him as a footballer than in anyone I’ve seen at Parkhead in a long time. Edouard is the best striker we’ve had since the King, but this guy reminds me of Henrik more than anyone else I’ve watched. He seems to have everything and he’s only going to get better.
He ripped Hearts apart today whilst he was on the pitch. It was a wholly dominant performance. They didn’t know what to do when he had the ball. Forrest got the final ball to Edouard for the opener, but it was Kyogo’s incredible awareness which set that goal in motion.
He popped up everywhere. The play for the opener was sublime, he played a role in the second in taking the quick corner and, of course, he scored the third.
Let’s for a minute go over that third goal.
When the attack starts he’s in an offside position, but he knows that and he times his run back as Celtic come forward. Now onside, he knows exactly where the gap behind him is and in an instant he moves into it, timing the run to perfection, collecting the pass and with the left foot beating the keeper from the acute angle.
This is what great players have that others don’t; it’s as if they are like great chess players, seeing every other piece on the board. They have the keen senses of a predator, knowing that it’s all in being a split second faster and sharper than those around them, and you could see that every time he had the ball, but especially in that goal.
It’s that ability to act, in an instant, to be that bit more spatially aware, to anticipate what your team-mate is going to do, that marked The King of Kings out above his peers.
Many of the goals he scored are simple enough finishes for a good striker … what made so many of them special was his ability to time a run to perfection, to find that moment when the defender had failed to track him, that little burst of energy and pace to get away, the first touch to take the ball and control it in an instant … this boy has all that in abundance.
He ran the show today. He got fans on their feet. Their defence did not know how to handle him; there was visible relief in their ranks when he went off. The longer he spend with the rest of this team the greater the understanding he will develop with them.
It was great to watch him today. It will be a pleasure to watch him in this coming campaign. He already looks like a standout and player of the year contender.