By Alex Taylor
Celtic star Moussa Dembele believes spending his childhood risking his safety and angering his father by playing football put him on the path to stardom.
The 19-year-old striker joined the Hoops on a free transfer at the end of last month after three years at Fulham.
Dembele came through the ranks at Paris Saint-Germain but believes most of his development took place on the streets of Paris.
He told the Daily Record: “Sometimes I was playing in the street until midnight. Seriously, my dad was really scared when I did that. But he knew what I was doing. We would play until it got dark, even play in the dark, because we loved football so much.
“I would maybe only have been about nine or ten at the time. I had to play. I just had to – and these were long games, maybe three or four hours. My dad would always tell me not to do it again. But I would always do it again.”
Dembele has shown potential from a young age and after Football Insider revealed in February that Dembele had rejected a contract offer from Fulham that would have quadrupled his wages, he seemed set for a move away from Craven cottage.
The France Under-20 international says knew he’d be a footballer from a young age.
“I realised even then that I could be a footballer,” he told the Daily Record. “I kept going and worked very hard to get where I am.
“You know, I had to work very hard to play with my brother and his friends. Obviously they were a lot older than me – but the kids my age weren’t good enough to give me a test. That made me strong, playing against big men.
“These games were in the street, with the street lights for goal posts. And the games were always my street against the guys from the next street. With those games, the competition between the streets was fierce – but really fun. I think that’s where I started to learn everything about football. You have to be good to play in those games.”
The Celtic forward will now be preparing for his first season with the Bhoys and already believes he has forged a relationship with strike partner Leigh Griffiths ahead of the new season.