MOUSSA DEMBELE is determined to follow in the Champions League footsteps of his heroes such as Thierry Henry, Ronaldo and Nicolas Anelka.
And the Celtic striker has Hapoel Be’er Sheva in his sights when the Hoops face the Israeli outfit in the first leg of their £20million play-off shoot-out at Parkhead on Wednesday night.
Dembele, bought from Fulham for a bargain £500,000 in the summer, blitzed in the stoppage-time winner from the penalty spot to see off Kazakhstan’s Astana in the previous round and is ready to accept the challenge of taking centre stage again.
The 20-year-old French ace said: “I grew up watching the Champions League as one of the biggest competitions in European and world football.
“I didn’t follow one particular team, I just watched every big game. The one that sticks in my mind is the 2005 Final between Liverpool and AC Milan.
“I was about nine years old and even then I knew I wanted to become a footballer.
“I used to dream about playing in the Champions League and the World Cup, and started to work towards that.
“When I watched that Final with Liverpool (who came back from 3-0 down at half-time to level it at 3-3 and win on penalty-kicks) I was hoping that one day that could be me.
“My heroes were Ronaldinho, Ronaldo – the Brazilian one – Samuel Eto’o, Thierry Henry and Nicolas Anelka.
“These were the types of players I liked as an attacker and they all did well in the Champions League.
“As a French kid, I loved both Henry and Anelka, they both had a lot of ability and talent.
“It would be a dream for me to play in this competition.
“To be there doing it myself instead of watching would be amazing, something crazy. Hopefully, we can win both games against Hapoel and make the group stage.”
Dembele understands how much it would mean to the Hoops supporters to qualify for the group stages.
He added: “They are desperate for the team to get into the Champions League, but, as players, we want it just as bad.
“Now we are just two games away and, hopefully, we can make it and everyone will be happy.”