Why do Korean/Japanese players go to Celtic instead of Rangers?

Celtic, a prestigious Scottish club, is aiming for Yang Hyeon-jun (Gangwon) of the K-League. Celtic, which already has striker Oh Hyun-gyu in the Korean national team, is said to have put two Korean players on the list in addition to Yang Hyun-jun. Besides, Celtic is also a team with 6 Japanese players.

There are 13 Northeast Asian national team players who have played or currently belong to Celtic. By country, Japan produced 8 people, followed by Korea (3 people) and China (2 people). Why is Celtic particularly interested in Japanese and Korean players?

Unlike most Scottish clubs who are ignorant or uninterested in Asian football, Celtic have traditionally been a team open to Asian players. The first Asian player Celtic have signed is Indian amateur Mohamed Salim. Salim, who played football barefoot, charmed his officials, and in 1936 he became a member of Celtic. At a time when racism was severe, Celtic chose players based only on their skills.The reason why Celtic has been more active in recruiting Asian players recently is because of the influence of coach Engie Postecoglu, who successfully led the club for two years from 2021. Greek-born Australian Postecoglu led the Australian national team to the top of the Asian Cup and won the Japanese J-League title in Yokohama. Based on this success, he became Celtic’s manager and started recruiting Japanese players he knew well.

In the 2000s, Asian players’ trip to Celtic began in earnest. Nakamura Shunsuke of the Japanese national team joined Celtic in 2005 and played 128 matches over four seasons, scoring 29 goals. In particular, Shunske was nominated for the Ballon d’Or in 2007 and was honored with the ‘Scotland Player of the Year’ award. When Ki Sung-yueng joined Celtic in 2009, the club already had China’s Zheng Zhi and Japan’s Koki Mizuno. It was the first time that Korean, Chinese, and Japanese players played together at a club in Europe.  

Institutional changes also had a positive effect on Celtic’s recruitment of Northeast Asian players. A prime example is Brexit. This is because post-Brexit players from the European Union need a work permit (work visa) to play in England or Scotland. Thanks to this tricky change in recruiting European players, non-European players aiming for the English league will benefit.   

The fact that the Scottish League has looser work permit rules than the EPL also worked to their advantage. In addition, the cheap ransom of players from the Asian League came as a big attraction to Celtic, which did not have enough funds compared to England or rich European clubs. Kyogo Furuhashi, Daizen Maeda, and Leo Hatate are cases where Celtic succeeded despite signing them for relatively little money from the J-League. As a result, Hibernian and Motherwell in the league also signed a contract with a young J-League player who is talented and has good cost-effectiveness.

When talking about Celtic, Rangers cannot be left out. The ‘Old Firm Derby’, between two clubs representing Scottish football, is the fiercest derby in the world. Their game has meaning beyond soccer. The rivalry between Celtic and Rangers is complicated by religion (Catholics vs. Protestants), politics (Labor vs. Conservatives) and ethnicity (Irish immigrants vs. Scottish Indigenous people).

If so, how many national team players from the three Northeast Asian countries have passed through the Rangers? There is not one. Across Asia토토사이트, the results are the same. The club has recruited national players from a total of 51 countries during its 151-year history, but not a single Asian player has been included.

I was curious as to why the Rangers were completely ignoring Asian players. Accordingly, I embarked on a multifaceted investigation. I searched the fan club bulletin board, asked questions, and listened to their answers. My conclusion is that Rangers are much more conservative than Celtic and have little interest in the Asian market. 

In fact, the Rangers’ closedness is also revealed in their anti-Catholic policy. From the beginning of the 20th century, Rangers did not sign Catholic players, and Catholics were not allowed to work at the club. Some players even left the Rangers because they married a Catholic. This policy was repealed in 1989 with the recruitment of Mo Johnston, a Catholic. Then, fans said they strongly protested by burning their season tickets. There was dissatisfaction even within the team, and no Rangers player attended the press conference for Johnston recruitment. Celtic, on the other hand, have never taken issue with religion when signing players.  

Some Rangers fans claim that the club has an unwritten rule of “not signing Asian players”. Of course, this claim has not been officially confirmed. At the time, there was a history of publicly denying the existence of such a policy.

After the 2022 World Cup, an article appeared that Celtic and Rangers were aiming for Cho Kyu-seong. The German football media ‘One Football’ showed a fairly harsh reaction. To summarize their argument, “It is nothing more than a media play to increase the value of players by using the reputation of Rangers. Rangers are not interested in Asian players or markets. No. The club’s market is limited to Europe.”

What surprised me in particular was that when referring to Kyu-Sung Cho, he wrote “Sung or whatever.” Also, “Rangers fans are Asian players. I was more interested in chicken chow mein (Chinese stir-fried noodles).” It was a moment. 

I hope this article will be of some help to soccer players who are interested in the Scottish League


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