Japanese midfielder Koki Mizuno believes he has uncovered the perfect recipe to serve up a regular place in the Celtic line-up — by turning his back on chips and beer.
The advice came from international team-mate Shunsuke Nakamura, who left Parkhead for Espanyol in June.
“Shunsuke was a great player and adored by all Celtic supporters,” 24-year-old Mizuno told the Daily Record newspaper.
“I watched him closely so I could learn from him and he told me how I could become a great Celtic player like him.
“He told me not to touch alcohol and chips — that was his advice to me — but I tried them one night and I won’t be doing that again. I didn’t feel too great.”
Mizuno, signed from JEF United last year, believes he learnt many other lessons from terrace idol Nakamura.
“I am not a huge player but Shunsuke was small like me. The difference, though, is he made up for that with his strength which meant players couldn’t push him off the ball,” said Mizuno.
“I am small in height and build but I knew after arriving I needed to increase my strength to be just like Shunsuke and make sure I couldn’t be pushed off the ball easily.
“That is why I push weights after training because I know ability alone is not good enough in Scotland.”
Mizuno now wants to replace Nakamura in the hearts of Celtic fans.
“Shunsuke is such a big personality in Japan. I know what I need to do to make headlines back home like him.
“I know I have to turn in big performances for Celtic and that means getting myself into the Celtic team.”
Mizuno, who scored once in 10 appearances last season, has struggled to hold down a regular first team place at Celtic with players like Aiden McGeady and Shaun Maloney often getting the nod ahead of him.
But he refuses to get too down-hearted.
“It takes time for players to adapt to a new lifestyle and club, especially when you come from somewhere such as Japan,” he added.
“I have big competition to get into the team from the likes of McGeady and Maloney, who are great players. But I believe I can force my way into the team. I am hoping to do that soon because I love the way (coach) Tony Mowbray plays the game.
“I have two years left on my contract and I want to make sure I get another one.” — AFP