Karamoko Dembele is a name that Celtic fans were familiar with long before he made his senior debut on Sunday afternoon.
The 16-year-old first attracted the media’s attention back in October 2016, when he made his debut for Celtic’s Under-20 development team at the age of 13.
The London-born winger, who is only 5ft 3in tall, was holding his own playing with and against players who were up to seven age groups above him.
Brendan Rodgers invited the talented youngster to participate in a light technical training session with the first team shortly after his appointment as the club’s head coach.
In February 2018, when Dembele was just 14 years old, Rodgers said the starlet had the talent to play in the first team ‘right now’.
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“Does the duty of care lie with the manager? Yeah, absolutely,” Rodgers told reporters. “From a talent perspective I could probably put Karamoko Dembele in to the first team right now. But he’s coming up to 15.
“I have to think about where he is at in terms of his maturation level. Not just his talent level.”
It would be another year and three months before Dembele was handed his long-awaited debut.
Celtic’s current boss Neil Lennon gave him 45 minutes to impress against Hearts on Sunday afternoon and the lively forward did not disappoint.
"He is the type of player that you want at Celtic," Lennon said of Dembele, per BBC Sport.
"He gets the crowd off their feet with his football intelligence. Obviously we need to keep a lid on it, but it's great that the fans have seen the glimpse of the future.”
Damien Duff, the former Chelsea and Republic of Ireland winger, is part of Celtic’s coaching staff and did his best Pep Guardiola impression to Dembele after the match.
Although Dembele was excellent on his first appearance, Duff still felt the youngster needed a post-match lecture to help him improve.
The Daily Record claim Duff was telling Dembele to be relentless in his play.
Watch the footage here…
However, the one-way conversation ended with smiles and a handshake between the two men.
The footage bears similarities to the incident between Guardiola and Raheem Sterling after Saturday’s FA Cup final.
But unlike Sterling, the young Dembele still has a lot to learn before he’s the finished article.News Now - Sport News