Karamoko Dembele is tiny and just 13 but he can be Celtic’s little genius
- Celtic's Karamoko Dembele came off the bench in win over Hearts
- The 13-year-old played final nine minutes for Celtic's development team
- Teenager first earned plaudits during the St Kevin's Boys club tournament
Standing at half the height of the other players and with braces on his teeth, 13-year-old Karamoko Dembele made his debut for Celtic’s Under 20 development team on Monday night.
It may have been only a nine-minute cameo in a 3-1 win over Hearts but a star has most certainly been born.
The youngster was already an internet sensation following his dazzling displays for Celtic’s schoolboy sides — skipping past Barcelona prodigies at this summer’s St Kevin’s Boys Academy Cup in Dublin, where he was Player of the Tournament.
Karamoko Dembele, aged 13, made his debut for Celtic's Under 20s development team
The teenager made history by coming on as a substitute on Monday night to make his debut
The 13-year-old looks up as he hopes to ignite another attack for his older team-mates
Video by Keepitonthedeck
IT'S YET ANOTHER DEMBELE
Karamoko Dembele is the fourth footballer with that surname playing in the UK — Celtic club-mate Moussa, Tottenham’s Belgian star Mousa and Barnet defender Bira. In total, there are currently 10 players and one coach in the professional game. Dembele is a surname of West African origin and is the 1,189th most popular worldwide.
Barcelona scouts made plenty of notes on Dembele during that tournament and other leading European clubs are likely to follow suit.
With Dembele flying down the wing, Celtic also won the prestigious Bassevelde Cup in Belgium last month.
Now he has won many more admirers. Despite being considerably smaller than anyone on the pitch, he held his own against Hearts, and as Celtic’s official website report said, ‘the diminutive playmaker did not look out of place’.
Celtic’s head of youth development Chris McCart added: ‘We’re all delighted to see Karamoko make his debut for the development squad. The fact that he was playing against other players seven years his senior gives an indication of the quality this young boy possesses.
‘What we need to remember, though, is that Karamoko is just 13 years old. He was given the chance to play on merit, but it is very important that we continue his development at a measured pace.’
While the teenager will head back to the Under 14 and Under 15 teams, a tug-of-war over his international eligibility could be afoot.
The teenager shot to fame in the prestigious St Kevin's Boys club tournament this summer
Dembele walks off the pitch following the 3-1 triumph for the Celtic U20 team
Manager Tommy McIntyre named the prodigiously talented Dembele on the bench
Karamoko Dembele (pictured before Monday) poses with the club's famous hooped shirt
Dembele was introduced for the final nine minutes of Celtic's 3-1 victory over Hearts
Dembele was born in London, making him eligible to play for England, while his parents’ heritage means he also qualifies for the Ivory Coast.
But because he has been at school for more than five years north of the border he also qualifies for Scotland.
David Feeney, his former coach at Park Villa in Glasgow, believes he has the ability to reach the very top. He told the Daily Record: ‘I think he is very similar to Lionel Messi. If he has the right guidance then the sky is the limit for him.’
Dembele 'didn't look out of place and played his part', according to a Celtic website report
The teen impressed in the prestigious St Kevin's Boys club tournament in Dublin this summer
Dembele replaced Jack Aitchison, Celtic's youngest scorer, netting aged 16 years and 71 days
The youngster will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of namesake Moussa Dembele
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