Celtic £11m sensation: I had Tottenham trial but was rejected because of my size
By Alex Stevens
Patrick Roberts has revealed that he was overlooked by Tottenham and Chelsea because of his diminutive stature.
The Celtic winger, who is midway through an 18-month loan from parent club Manchester City, recalled how the academies of the elite London-based clubs rejected him when he was a youth player after he underwent trials.
Roberts was eventually taken on by Fulham at the age of 14 and made his name at the club after progressing quickly through their prolific academy to make his first-team bow at the age of 16.
The teenager, now 19, subsequently joined City in the summer of 2015 for a deal worth up to £11million before heading to Celtic in January of this year to play regular first-team football.
Roberts made a big impact under ex-boss Ronny Delia last season and has been used predominantly as an impact substitute by Brendan Rodgers in his first full campaign in a Celtic side that is overwhelming all domestic opposition.
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The youngster scored his third goal of the season in a 4-3 win away to Motherwell last Saturday in which the visiting team came back from 2-0 and 3-2 down. He has also chipped in with six assists in all competitions.
“As a kid I was criticised and disregarded for being too small, but he’s showed that size doesn’t matter,” Roberts said, as quoted by the Times. “I was overlooked by several academies in London because of my size — Chelsea, Tottenham, Watford, QPR — but the likes of [Lionel] Messi, Xavi and [Andres] Iniesta showed you don’t have to be big to play football.
“Fulham gave me a trial in 2010 and I’ll never forget that day. I’m almost crying about it now. When I got signed by Fulham it was a great moment for me and I’ll never forget it. Messi, Xavi and Iniesta were winning everything around that time, and showed you could make it at 5ft 7in or 5ft 8in.”
Roberts is available to play in Celtic’s Champions League clash against City at Etihad Stadium on Tuesday night after he insisted that permission to play against his parent club in European competition was written into the loan agreement between the clubs when he moved to Glasgow in January.
The teenager insisted that he wants to make a big impression at Parkhead before returning to City and attempting to secure a regular first-team place in Pep Guardiola’s highly competitive squad.
In other Tottenham news, Mauricio Pochettino is pushing Spurs chiefs to sign this 29-year-old.