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Ireland U21 international Lee O'Connor swaps Manchester United for Celtic

The versatile 19-year-old from Waterford has signed a four-year deal with the Scottish champions.

Celtic unveiled Lee O'Connor late last night.
Celtic unveiled Lee O'Connor late last night.
Image: Celtic FC

CELTIC HAVE COMPLETED the signing of versatile Irish youngster Lee O’Connor on a four-year deal.

O’Connor joins the Scottish champions for an undisclosed fee from Manchester United, where he had been on the books since the age of 16.

The Waterford native, who turned 19 in July, has experience of playing across the back four. He also showed while captaining Ireland at the recent U19 European Championships that he’s comfortable in a defensive midfield role.

O’Connor, who’s expected to feature at right-back for the Ireland U21s in Friday’s European Championship qualifier against Armenia in Tallaght, left the camp in Dublin yesterday to sign for his new club in Glasgow before the transfer deadline. 

“I found out last weekend about Celtic’s interest and it went from there,” he told Celtic’s official website when the move was announced late last night. “Today was a bit hectic but I’m just glad to get it through before the window shuts.

“The Irish squad met up this morning and I spoke to the manager, Stephen Kenny, and he was fine about me coming here today. I’ll meet up with them again tomorrow for training.

“I’m a versatile player. I can play anywhere across the back four or midfield if needed. I’d say that I’m a wholehearted defender. I love defending and tackling, but I like to get forward as well. First and foremost, though, I am a defender.”

Following in the footsteps of Luca Connell (Bolton Wanderers) and Jonathan Afolabi (unattached after being released by Southampton), O’Connor is the third Irish underage international to join Celtic since the end of last season.

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“I just want to get started, work hard and give it my all, and hopefully the manager and all the staff will see why they’ve brought me here and I can make an impact,” said O’Connor, who was a key player for Manchester United U23s but missed out on a first-team debut.

He added: “Walking through the Celtic Park tunnel, even in an empty stadium, I just want to run out on to the pitch, but I’ll just have wait and see what happens. It’s been a surreal week, but I’m really happy to be here and really proud as well.” 

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Paul Dollery

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