Modest Nakamura hails brilliant Boruc

Shunsuke Nakamura believes Celtic team-mate Artur Boruc should have been voted SPFA Player of the Year.

Shunsuke Nakamura believes Celtic team-mate Artur Boruc should have been voted SPFA Player of the Year.

Nakamura, 28, picked up the award on Sunday night, when he also beat off competition from Celtic defender Lee Naylor and Aberdeen skipper Russell Anderson.

It was a fitting end to a day when Celtic finally clinched the Bank of Scotland Premier League title thanks to Nakamura’s dramatic last-gasp free-kick at Kilmarnock.

However, the Japanese star insists goalkeeper Boruc should have picked up the gong in recognition of an impressive season between the sticks.

Nakamura said: “Artur has made some great saves throughout the year and he deserved to win the award.

“The players who go forward and score goals are always in the limelight but there aren’t many goalkeepers like him who can do what he does.”

Nakamura was hailed “a genius” by both manager Gordon Strachan and skipper Neil Lennon following Sunday’s title triumph.

But he added: “I don’t think I’m a genius – geniuses don’t make mistakes.

“Some people say I can’t tackle or head the ball but I try to contribute more to the team with my head in terms of thinking. However, I’m trying to improve those other aspects such as tackling and heading the ball.”

A deadball specialist, Nakamura has found the back of the net seven times from free-kicks this season and revealed how his biggest talent grew from humble beginnings.

He said: “When I was a kid I was really small and not very muscular. I couldn’t kick the ball far. I used to practice in the park near my house, trying to kick the ball to the same point all the time.

“As I developed muscles and more strength, I was able to curl the ball and that’s where the free-kicks came from.”

These days, natural ability has as big a part to play as hard work on the training ground and Nakamura – who cites his free-kick against Manchester United as his top of the season – admitted: “Basically, on the day before the match I just practice for half an hour or so to get a feeling for the next day.”

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