ANGE Postecoglou tonight revealed that he always knew Kyogo Furuhashi would start for Celtic in the Premier Sports Cup final - despite not being fully fit.

Japanese striker Furuhashi scored a second-half double as his side came from behind to beat Hibernian 2-1 at Hampden this afternoon and lift the first trophy of the season.

The 26-year-old had suffered a hamstring strain in the Europa League match against Real Betis earlier this month and been sidelined for two Premiership matches.

However, Postecoglou never had any doubt that his £4.6m summer signing, who was named Man of the Match at the end of the 90 minutes, would miss out.  

“From the moment he picked up the injury there was no way he was not going to play today, irrespective of what I was saying or the medical team were saying,” he said.

“He wasn’t 100 per cent, but I knew he would play today. This football club and him were a match made in heaven. He just had it in his mind he was going to play. 

“We were kind of thinking it wouldn’t happen, but he just made himself available, even though he’s not one hundred per cent. 

“Obviously there is more risk for someone who is coming back from injury. But good luck trying to keep him out today. There was no chance.

“He would have snuck on the bus or snuck on to the field at some point! He just had it in his head that he was going to play today. He wanted to help the players and the team and to be part of this.”

“I don’t know how he did it, but he’s a quality player and a quality person. His movement was incredible, but so was the quality of his finishing. 

“To have that composure in such a big game is incredible - they are two world class finishes in a big game. He knows that everyone is watching him and that’s one of the challenges he has.

“We are missing some significant talent at the moment, but these boys keep finding a way.”

Furuhashi was unknown when he arrived in Scotland from Vissel Kobe in his homeland back in July, but Postecoglou was always confident the forward, who has now netted 16 times in the 2021/22 campaign, would flourish.

“You are bringing someone from the other side of the world and I don’t think anyone would have said he was a cast-iron guarantee to be a hit for a lot of people,” he said. 

“I feel a responsibility with him because I am the one who brought him here. I knew he would be a fantastic player and he is an even better person. 

“Kyogo was always going to be my first pick because I had witnessed at first hand what sort of player he was. I had no doubt he would be successful.”

Postecoglou was pleased that Celtic, who finished last season trophyless, managed to prevail despite missing Albian Ajeti, James Forrest and Georgios Giakoumakis.

But he was disappointed that David Turnbull, who limped off with a hamstring injury in the first half, joined a lengthy injury list.  

“David suffered from the amount of games we are playing at the moment,” he said. “We are suffering because of that. We have not been able to rotate the squad a lot and that is hurting us, picking up these injuries. We will just see how he is.”

Postecoglou added: “I’m just really proud of this group of players. Not just players, but this group of people and staff. 

“Pretty much from the day I walked in the door we’ve had some sort of challenge in front of us. Almost on a daily basis we had to sort of overcome stuff. 

 “Even today. The first time they are in our box they score and you’re thinking ‘here is another one . . . ’ But the response has been what it has been since the moment I arrived. 

 “So I am just really proud of a group of people who get their rewards tonight and I am really privileged to be a part of it.”