By Dominic Toner
Celtic praised their youngster Karamoko Dembele after he made his debut for the club’s Under-20s on Monday night.
The 13-year-old made a remarkable appearance from the substitute’s bench to play in the last nine minutes of the 3-1 SPL Development League win over Hearts.
Attacking midfielder Dembele has already featured for the Scottish giants in their Under-15 squad against West Brom, Sheffield United and Barcelona but has taken another step closer to the first-team.
Dembele was introduced into the action after 81 minutes for Jack Aitchison and head coach Tommy McIntyre trusted the youngster to make the step up.
The official match report on the club’s website praised Dembele’s performance and believe he he played his part well.
“A magical moment was then crystallized for a talented young Celtic prospect as 13-year-old Karamoko Dembele replaced Aitchison with just under 10 minutes left to make his debut at that level – seven years above his age group,” the report read. “The diminutive playmaker didn’t look out of place and played his part in the closing stages.
The left-footed attacker has been likened to Lionel Messi and often cuts in from the right wing onto his favoured left foot, can pick a pass and has excellent dribbling skills.
The decision to play Dembele is believed to have come about after a number of young players have been called away on international duty this week.
Celtic will be hopeful that Dembele can emulate Aitchison’s, who became the club’s youngest senior goal scorer against Motherwell last season.
He netted a goal in the first-team at the tender age of just 16 years and 71 days old.
Dembele is expected to be a future star at Celtic Park and could even break that record if he continues his rapid development.
In other Celtic team news, their senior player has been named in the SPFL’s team of the week.