It is worth more than a passing observation that in yesterday’s game Celtic had players from 11 different countries in the starting line-up:
England, Sweden, Honduras, Scotland, Nigeria, Netherlands, Finland, Israel, Ireland, Greece and Wales.
Recruitment came from clubs in 7 different league structures:
England (3) and Wales, Scotland, Norway, Honduras, Israel (2), Netherlands and Germany.
There were a further four different nationalities on the bench.
Of the starting line-up only Fraser Forster is not a full international, although that is surely only a matter of time, but Fraser is the only player we have from a large football nation, perhaps an indication that it is more difficult to recruit nationals from England, Germany, Italy, France and Spain than elsewhere.
The signing of Emilio Izaguirre from Honduras three years ago came two years after the player’s representatives had him on trial in England. It’s likely Emilio’s CV was in every mailbox in the British game, so I doubt we have much of an infrastructure in Central America.
Celtic have obviously matured links in Israel recently, Beram Kayal and Efe Ambrose have delivered value, while Nir Biton fits the profile of the player Celtic should be looking for. Embedding relationships in similar markets offers a higher likelihood of value – and therefore football development – than taking our chance on the mainstream British and European circuits.
Prize to anyone who can point to Guinea-Bissau (Amido Balde’s country of birth and location of a Sporting Lisbon-associate club) on the map. There is a lot of work to do to catch up with the Portuguese.
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