CELTIC’S teenage wonderkid Karamoko Dembele has agreed a deal that will keep him at the Hoops until at least 2021.
It’s a first professional contract for the starlet who will celebrate his 16th birthday in February.
Dembele, who attracted worldwide attention following his substitute appearance in the Parkhead Under-21 side at the age of 13, is delighted to have committed his immediate future to the champions.
He 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 for everything they’ve done for me. 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.”
The gifted attacking midfielder added: “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’.”
Dembele has acknowledged he will be given every opportunity to express his quality and display his skills at Parkhead.
He has watched as Academy players such as Callum McGregor, James Forrest, Anthony Ralston and Mikey Johnston have performed well in recent months.
Scotland international duo McGregor and Forrest have been rewarded with long-term contracts while Ralston and Johnston have stepped into the limelight in the past two Premiership games against Motherwell and Dundee, both of which ended in 3-0 victories for Brendan Rodgers’ men.
All four will play key roles in Celtic’s two crucial league encounters at Pittodrie on Wednesday and Ibrox at the weekend as the winter break looms at the turn of the year.