New Hearts forward Ryo Meshino admits he will draw inspiration from Scottish football’s most eminent Japanese import – Shunsuke Nakamura – in his attempt to thrill the club’s supporters.
The 21-year-old finally sealed his season-long loan switch from Manchester City yesterday following an arduous two-week long effort obtaining the relevant paper work.
Despite only landing in Edinburgh on Friday morning following a sapping 20-hour journey from his home city Osaka, Hearts manager Craig Levein is hoping international clearance will arrive in time to hand Meshino his debut against Hamilton today.
Meshino only joined City earlier this month in a seven-figure transfer from Gamba Osaka and the ambitious attacking midfielder has designs on leaving a lasting impression in the top-flight just like his compatriot.
Nakamura became a cult hero during his trophy-laden four years at Celtic until 2009, scoring several memorable free-kicks in his 34-goal haul.
Speaking through his agent, Meshino said: “Nakamura is a great player in Japan and his achievements in Scotland were fantastic.
“A lot of people in Scotland talk about Nakamura so I want to be a player the supporters love, like the Celtic supporters do with Nakamura.
“When I was a child I didn’t watch much football but when I decided I was coming to Hearts I watched videos of Nakamura so I could learn a bit about Scottish football.
“I was here for the Ross County game two weeks ago and I can imagine that I can help make a difference in the team.
“The supporters at Hearts are very hardcore and are very passionate.
“My big goal is to play for Manchester City, of course.
“This my first season playing in Europe and I think that everyone at Hearts, the coach and the assistant coaches, have made me feel positive that they will help me improve.
“But most importantly I just want to play and concentrate on Hearts.
“I like the No.10 position. I like to receive the ball in tight spaces and turn towards goal to make assists and score goals.
“I like to make the difference near the penalty box.”
Meshino’s move to Hearts caps a whirlwind month that included getting married.
However, the players admits the wait for a work permit and visa had been at the forefront of his thoughts.
He added: “Getting married was good for me. No problem.
“To come to Hearts I had to acquire a work permit to play here.
“That was the biggest issue for me.
“For one week, two weeks I couldn’t sleep.
“The wait was killing me! for those two weeks, because we had to get the work permit, get the passport.
“I wanted to come to Edinburgh every day. I was like ‘hurry up! hurry up!’ Finally I’m here.”
Hearts manager Levein admits he was relieved that the player was not put off by the team being booed off in the recent drab goal-less draw with Ross County.
Meshino had been a guest of the club at the game.
Levein said: “I knew he was hugely keen after we brought him to the Ross County game and he still wanted to come.
“Believe it or not that told me something. He loves the atmosphere, which is interesting as well.
“He talked about a moment in the second half when Aidy White beat a few players and the crowd responded.
“And that excited him because that’s what he does.
“I think the game taught him that football here matters as well.
“If you’re playing in the top league in Japan you maybe think the top league in Scotland isn’t the most exciting place to play.
“But I think the emotion of the fans and the stadium, it always feels better to play football in a place that matters.
“It matters here and he felt that during the game, which was exciting for me.
“He understands our fans expect to win and he feels he is someone who can help us win.
“So let’s see what happens.”
Asked if Meshino is an English Premier League star in the making, Levein replied: “Yeah, I think he has the attributes. He is quick, he is robust, technically he is superb.
“And what excites me more than anything is he wants to attack and shoot and take people on.
“And the fact Manchester City have paid a seven-figure sum to get him, they’ve done their research much more than we can afford to do.
“And they’re very, very excited about him as well.”