He has went viral on YouTube, has been touted for future stardom with some of the biggest clubs in the world and is in the middle of a tug-of-war battle between England and Scotland over who he plays for – but now Karamoko Dembele has signed his first full time professional deal with Celtic!
The deal which will see him stay at Celtic Park until 2021, is a major coup for the Scottish champions given the number of suitors waiting in the wings to snap the 16-year-old up.
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,” he added. “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’.”
After signing his first full time professional deal, Dembele now has his sights on playing for the Celtic first team and given how much he has developed in such a short space of time, it looks as if we will see him pulling on the Celtic kit at Celtic Park sooner rather than later.
Dembele continued: “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.”
Dembele joined Celtic aged 10 in 2013, after being playing for Park Villa. He made his debut for the Under-20’s – aged 13 – against Hearts in October 2016 and has starred for both England and Scotland youth national sides.