ISLAM FERUZ, the former Celtic wonder Bhoy, has urged 13-year-old Karamoko Dembele to remain at the Hoops and enjoy his football.
The youngster walked out on the Parkhead outfit after six years to accept a lucrative offer to join Chelsea in September 2011.
His family had swapped war-torn Somalia for a new life in Glasgow and Feruz’s talents were quickly spotted by the Bhoys. Feruz was also 13 when he first burst onto the scene in 2009 in a memorial game for the late, great Tommy Burns.
However, he never made a solitary first team appearance in the green and white hoops of the Glasgow giants.
Teen sensation Dembele hit the headlines when he came on for the last nine minutes of the Under-20s’ 3-1 win over Hearts at Cappielow last week and has already attracted attention throughout Europe.
Feruz was in a similar situation five years ago. The attacking midfielder is now 21 and still on the books at Stamford Bridge, but has yet to figure in the top side. He is currently on loan with Belgian side Excel Mouscron after temporary spells at OFI Crete, Blackpool and Hibs.
The four times-capped Scotland Under 21 international said: “I’ve heard about young Dembele and I’ ve been told he has a genuine chance to go all the way.
“It takes me back to the situation I was in seven or eight years ago.
“The main thing is to stay focused and concentrate on football. If he keeps doing what he has been doing then he will continue to improve.
“He has been recognised by the Celtic Under-20 team. That will have boosted him. If he keeps progressing at this speed, then who knows what he will be ready to achieve at 16?
“I hope he stays with Celtic, plays for their first team and score lots of goals. Never forget that playing football makes you happy.
“If he does that, the next step of his career will be a natural progression. He will not need to chase anything or rush into anything.
“He just has to keep his head down, stay focused and not allow himself to be distracted. That’s the best advice I can give him.
“I remember it all just seemed to happen at once and hit me overnight. There was so much publicity. It was very hard to handle. My family and friends were also thrust into the spotlight.
“It’s hard to cope when you are so young. It’s easy to put your faith in other people and it becomes easy to lose focus on football. People will now want to get involved with him and, no doubt, promise plenty. People will try to sweet talk him.
“But you must trust in your family, that is so important. And stick to football. It’s easy to become distracted and lose sight of the necessary development required on and off the field.
“The people of Scotland, in every walk of life, must try to protect him. I wish him luck.”
Meanwhile former Celtic skipper, Andy Lynch will publish his autobiography on 18 October on CQN Books. It’s called Hoops, Stars and Stripes and he has worked on the book with respected Celtic author Paul Dykes.
Paul has kindly given us 100 signed copies of The Quality Street Gang to give away to the first 100 CQN’ers to order Andy’s new book, which is a fascinating read. You’ll have to be quick though – order at www.cqnbookstore.com and you will receive two great books for just £14.99 plus p&p.