Celtic have vowed not to rush the development of 13-year-old Karamoko Dembele after handing the gifted young playmaker a debut for their under-20s.
Dembele had already created a stir on social media after footage emerged of his prodigious talent during a youth tournament in Ireland earlier this year.
The Glasgow schoolboy, whose family is from Ivory Coast, further shot to prominence after coming off the bench for the final nine minutes of Celtic’s 3-1 victory over Hearts at Cappielow in the SPFL Development League on Monday night.
The youngster joined Celtic in July 2013 and has made waves inside their academy and outside it after footage of his skill against the likes of Barcelona during the St Kevin’s Boys Academy Cup under-13 tournament in Dublin emerged.
He gained his latest promotion amid the absence of several players with the Scotland Under-19 squad, with 15-year-old Kieran McGrath also in action against Hearts.
And Celtic’s head of youth, Chris McCart, promised to take care of the prospect’s career progress.
McCart told the club’s official website: “We were all delighted to see Karamoko make his debut for the development squad last night against Hearts in what proved to be an entertaining game.
“The fact that he was playing against other players seven years his senior gives an indication of the quality this young boy possesses and it was also fitting that he came on for Jack Aitchison, the club’s youngest-ever goalscorer.
“What we need to remember, though, is that Karamoko is just 13 years old. He was given a chance to play last night on merit, as was Kieran, but it is very important that we continue their development at a measured pace.
“Karamoko is still a young boy and has a lot of growing to do, both physically and mentally. The coaches at our under-13 and 14 levels have been fantastic in nurturing his potential but it is crucial that we do not push him too far, too soon.
“He has a lot of hard work ahead of him to make it to the top and we won’t rush that, but we also know Karamoko, and the other talented young players we have here, is at the perfect place to continue his progress and we look forward to seeing what the future holds for this young player.”