'He gets the crowd off their feet' - 16-year-old Dembele impresses on Celtic debut

Hoops boss Neil Lennon heaped praise on the teenager after his second-half cameo at Parkhead yesterday.

Dembele has a strike at goal during yesterday's game.
Dembele has a strike at goal during yesterday's game.
Image: Jane Barlow

KARAMOKO DEMBELE HAD a day to remember at Celtic Park yesterday. 

With the club in party mode ahead of the trophy presentation for their eighth Scottish Premiership title in a row, the 16-year-old forward was handed his first-team debut. 

Coming on as a half-time substitute for Oliver Burke, the youngster didn’t take long to catch the eye with fearless running and a willingness to shoot on sight. 

Dembele, who became the club’s second-youngest player ever in the 2-1 win over Hearts, didn’t cap the occasion with a goal, but he showed enough to excite Hoops fans looking ahead to next season. 

“He’s great to watch,” said manager Neil Lennon. “He is the type of player that you want at Celtic. He gets the crowd off their feet with his football intelligence. Everyone talks about the skill, but his football intelligence is very good.

“I’m delighted for him. Obviously we need to keep a lid on it, but it’s great for the fans that they have seen the glimpse of the future.

It was a great time, at the end of the season, and to get 45 minutes. The kid is 16, we know how talented he is and we just want to develop him in the right way.

“He has been training with the first team and he has had a very good season with the reserve team, and I had no hesitation giving him 45 minutes. There was always a plan to give him some game-time, but with Burkey going off, we thought we should throw him in there and let him play.”

Celtic face the same opponents at Hampden Park on Saturday, and the teenager could again be involved. 

Watch his highlights and celebrations with his family below: 

Source: Celtic FC/YouTube

Celtic first-team coach Damien Duff took the player aside to give him some advice after the final whistle too.

Great to see.

Gavin Cooney
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