Tuesday 17 September 2019

Celtic sign highly-rated 15-year-old midfielder to first professional contract

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - OCTOBER 30: Karamoko Dembele of Scotland is seen during the Scotland v Northern Ireland match during the U16 Vicrory Shield Tournament at The Oriam at Heriot Watt University on October 30, 2016 in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - OCTOBER 30: Karamoko Dembele of Scotland is seen during the Scotland v Northern Ireland match during the U16 Vicrory Shield Tournament at The Oriam at Heriot Watt University on October 30, 2016 in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Celtic have announced that Karamoko Dembele has signed his first full-time professional contract in a deal that sees him remain at Parkhead until at least 2021.

The highy-rated 15-year-old midfielder joined the Hoops in 2013 and made his Under-20s' debut against Hearts in October 2016 - coming off the bench for a side then seven years above his age group.

Speaking to the official Celtic website, Dembele said: "It means a lot to me to start my professional career at Celtic.

"I came here at a young age, and, after all the stuff me and family have been through together, it'll be good to make them proud.

"I'd like to say thank you to everyone, and I'd like to thank everyone for everything they've done for me.

"I'd also like to thank everyone for the training I've received, the discipline I've been taught, and the advice I've been given all the way.

"Getting attention at a young age has been hard, but I've obviously had my family to help me through that. You need to be strong mentally, you need to stay grounded, and you just need to get on with everything that you do on a daily basis.

"Seeing players come through the Academy and into the first team gives you hope, because you know they've taken the same path. That means you've got a chance to make it into the first team if you work hard and give it your all.

"My brother Siriki, who plays for Peterborough United, first taught me how to play football. I wasn't always interested in football, but he brought me in and he helped me. He helps me in everything I do. If I have a bad game, he'll talk to me and he'll say, 'don't be down, keep your morale high'."

Dembele has set his sights on becoming part of Brendan Rodgers' plans as soon as possible.

He said: "My goal is to play for the first team.

"As soon as I can, I'm going to try to get into the first team, 100 per cent.

"In the reserves, every training session, every game - it's all to prove myself to the manager that I can play in the first team."

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