Thousands welcome Nakamura to Espanyol
© AFP

Japan international Shunsuke Nakamura has said that he will have to become a faster player now that he is in the Spanish league after he was presented to over 6,000 fans of new side Espanyol.

"I want to thank everyone who made it possible for me to be here. I am proud to get this welcome. This increases the pressure but once I am on the pitch I will give my all to return this affection and give fans reasons to celebrate," the 31-year-old midfielder said.

"I will have to improve in every area, especially to adopt a faster playing style, both physically and mentally," he added.

I will have to improve in every area, especially to adopt a faster playing style, both physically and mentally.
Shunsuke Nakamura

Nakamura joined Espanyol on a two-year deal last month, with an annual wage estimated at €1.2 million (1.7 million dollars), as his contract with Celtic expired. He won three Scottish Premier League titles during his four years at Celtic Park.

The former Scottish Player of the Year said opted to go to Spain despite the offer of a return to his hometown club Yokohama Marinos, a decision which caused consternation among the J-League club's fans, because he had dreamed of playing in La Liga since he was a child.

Hundreds of fans greeted the player as he arrived in Barcelona for a medical on Saturday, prompting Spanish media to compare him to new Real Madrid signing Cristiano Ronaldo who was welcomed by 80,000 fans at his presentation last week. At Espanyol, Nakamura is expected to battle for a position against a lineup of offensive players such as Ivan de la Pena and Luis Garcia.

Nakamura, who spent three years at Italy's Reggina after parting in 2002 with his first club Yokohama Marinos, has been capped 87 times, with 29 goals to his credit.