There are nonetheless just a few chapters to be written in Celtic’s story this season however the primary narrative is for certain to chronicle an unlikely story of two strikers.
At McDiarmid Park on Boxing Day, the three factors earned by Ange Postecoglou’s hugely-depleted aspect got here at a major value.
The sight of Kyogo Furuhashi departing the scene early whereas clutching his troublesome hamstring was an alarming one for these Celtic followers compelled to look at the closed-doors recreation from afar.
Giorgos Giakoumakis has helped information Celtic to a six-point lead over rivals Rangers
Per week beforehand, the Japanese had struck twice as Celtic got here from behind to win the Premier Sports activities Cup in opposition to Hibs.
The star man in Postecoglou’s revamped squad was, by frequent consent, irreplaceable.
At that cut-off date, the prospect of being with out him till April would have been unthinkable. The percentages on a six-point deficit being was a six-point lead in his absence? Identify your value.
Giorgos Giakoumakis had not been noticed within the six weeks previous to that day in Perth. The Greek had scored simply as soon as in his eight appearances, with a late missed penalty in opposition to Livingston including to an inventory of woes together with Covid and accidents.
The participant’s hat-trick in opposition to Ross County final month was important in Celtic’s title hunt
Frankly, there was valuable little to recommend he was the person to fill any void.
‘It was a very irritating time for me,’ Giakoumakis recalled. ‘It was actually troublesome as a result of I used to be making an attempt to settle right here and modify to a brand new setting.
‘I used to be trying ahead to coming right here and taking part in my first video games nevertheless it was more durable than I assumed.
‘I had an harm and likewise Covid so I used to be sick a few instances. So it was troublesome to get match and powerful and assist my team-mates.’
An unsure begin to life in Glasgow examined his resolve. To prevail in such making an attempt moments, gamers want the unstinting religion of their supervisor. Postecoglou’s by no means waned.
Kyogo Furuhashi returned on Boxing Day earlier than happening once more after quarter-hour
‘For the reason that first second I got here right here and had this tough time, he was all the time making an attempt to assist me and persuade me that: “I consider in you”,’ stated the striker.
‘He instructed me simply to attempt to get match and that I used to be a very essential participant for him and the group. That was actually essential for me.
‘It made me really feel good and relaxed. I might give attention to my restoration. I labored even more durable. That’s why I’m actually robust proper now.’
With Postecoglou typically obscure concerning the timescale for Furuhashi’s recuperation, it was clear the Greek must ship if Celtic had been to remain within the title race.
‘I didn’t really feel any strain as a result of I had belief in my capacity,’ stated Giakoumakis. ‘I knew what I used to be able to doing. I needed to play my recreation and be myself and never fear about anything.’
The tide started to show with a first-time end at Alloa within the Scottish Cup, with one other objective instantly following in opposition to Hearts.
Giakoumakis wasn’t on the rating sheet in Celtic’s subsequent 4 video games however his work price and willpower was nonetheless famous.
Furuhashi’s identify was by no means removed from the lips of followers and journalists however the Greek’s rising affect on the group mitigated in opposition to the influence of his fellow striker’s absence.
The Japanese’s doubtless return in opposition to St Johnstone tomorrow is welcome and well timed for the group. However the significance of the 11 objectives Giakoumakis has scored since he final took the sphere is misplaced on no-one.
Ange Postecoglou has overseen a exceptional revolution at Celtic
‘I believe I’m in the very best interval of my profession,’ he stated. ‘I hope to maintain scoring quite a lot of objectives for Celtic. I’ll give my finest for them and hope to have some profitable seasons by profitable some trophies. I’m very optimistic.’
At VVV-Venlo final season, the partitions of relegation had been closing in. Giakoumakis alone couldn’t forestall the minnows from finally happening, however his 29-goal haul – the best within the Netherlands – was staggering.
‘It’s a very completely different state of affairs to be in, however my job is identical,’ he stated. ‘I’ve to attain, I’ve to offer every little thing within the subject to assist my group to win. But it surely’s very nice to combat for profitable trophies moderately than making an attempt to not get relegated.
‘So, for me, that is one thing actually stunning and I hope we are able to win many trophies.’
Final Sunday, Celtic put a few fingers on the Premiership trophy with victory over Rangers. The white-hot ambiance inside Ibrox threatened to devour Celtic early on. But Giakoumakis, for one, felt proper at dwelling.
‘There are some big video games in Greece – derbies like that the place the ambiance is absolutely loopy,’ he stated.
‘You get it between Olympiakos, AEK Athens, PAOK Salonica and Panathinaikos. They’re the 4 massive groups.
Giorgos Giakoumakis has stepped up within the absence of his teammate Kyogo Furuhashi
‘However the Outdated Agency is one thing particular – even greater. The ambiance is absolutely loopy. You may see how a lot individuals love soccer right here, so I believe it’s even greater right here.
‘These experiences in Greece did put together me for it. The derbies I’ve performed in earlier than made me stronger and gave me focus. On Sunday I needed to shut my ears and give attention to my group.’
Celtic followers now sense they’ve an actual participant on their fingers. Completely different in fashion to Furuhashi however vastly efficient.
A win in opposition to St Johnstone tomorrow can be one other step in direction of the prize that Giakoumakis and his Parkhead team-mates all need.
Kyogo Furuhashi was anticipated to return at Ibrox on Sunday nevertheless it was delayed
There are different reminders of the successes chalked updated. The spoils from his hat-trick exploits in opposition to Dundee and Ross County are by no means removed from view.
‘The balls are in a particular room in my home,’ he revealed. ‘My son is already taking part in with them. I would like to cover them as a result of I’ve some signatures on the balls and I believe they are going to quickly disappear.
‘I believe he can be soccer loopy like me. Really I don’t care about that as I need him to be wholesome initially and do no matter he thinks goes to make him pleased.
‘However what I’ve seen to date is that, every time he’s crying and I’m watching soccer, he stops crying.’