By Emma Sanders
Former teenage sensation Sonny Pike has revealed his fears that Celtic’s 13-year-old wonderkid Karamoko Dembele will go on to suffer the same fate as he did.
The Englishman was tipped to become the next best thing in football when he broke onto the scene at the age of just 10 but, after turning down Ajax to join Leyton Orient, Pike ended up quitting football altogether due to the pressures of the game and the overwhelming attention.
Pike fears Dembele could be under too much pressure to succeed and hopes the youngster surrounds himself with the best possible advisers in order to avoid the failures the Pick experienced.
“It’s interesting to consider which way it’s going to go for him and hopefully it can be a good thing for him. It’s all about how Karamoko is managed and having the right people around him,” Pike told Sky Sports.
“People have to understand his situation. Everything’s so instant nowadays that I’m sure he’s feeling a bit of pressure already but hopefully people just leave him to play football.”
The Celtic star is currently one of the most sought-after youngsters in the game and is already in the midst of an international tug of war between Scotland and England, although his Ivorian parentage also makes him a candidate to play for the Ivory Coast.
Dembele trained with England’s youth squads last month despite already featuring for Scotland’s under-16s and he has also been linked with a number of English clubs after making his debut for the Hoops under-23s.
Pike experienced similar levels of interest from Ajax in 1995 and took part in a trial as he mixed alongside club legends such as ex-manager Louis van Gaal and all-time greats Frank Rikaard and Patrick Kluivert but rejected the Dutch outfit and years of despair followed.
Celtic’s teenage sensation is currently playing regular youth team football with the club’s under-17s squad.
In other Celtic news, Tom Rogic starts in the best possible XI to face Barcelona.