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20 May, 2019 12:14

'He's got 1 more league medal than Gerrard - aged 16!' - Celtic wonderkid Dembélé debut stuns fans

'He's got 1 more league medal than Gerrard - aged 16!' - Celtic wonderkid Dembélé debut stuns fans

Precocious, pint-sized wonderkid Karamoko Dembélé made his debut for Scottish champions Celtic on Sunday aged just 16, both wowing fans and causing them to jibe at his title medal haul compared to Rangers manager Steven Gerrard.

Born in London to Ivorian parents, winger Dembélé has lived in Glasgow, Scotland, nearly all of his life, and joined local side Celtic's youth setup aged 10. He gained significant media attention when he made his debut for the club's U-20 team three years later, and on Sunday he was given his first team bow against Hearts. 

Coming on as a 46th minute substitute with the game level at 1-1 for Oliver Burke, himself formerly tipped as a teen sensation, Dembélé helped the Celts to a 2-1 win courtesy of a late Michael Johnston winner, wowing observers with pace, intelligence and talent that belied his years.

Celtic's win in the final game of the season was capped with Scottish Premier League title celebrations at Parkhead, and Dembélé collected his winner's medal after the match and lifted the championship trophy, later partying on the pitch with his family.

Following his electric debut, social media became awash with highlight videos from fans still stunned at the teenager's show of flair. Some audaciously suggested "he's already too good for Scottish football", while others took the chance to ridicule long-time Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard.

Current Rangers manager Gerrard was famed for his barren league run as a player and this season his Gers side finished nine points behind Celtic, prompting fans to revel in Dembélé's impressive ratio of winning a title in his first game.

Celtic boss Neil Lennon, who had rested some key players with one eye on Saturday's Scottish Cup final, also against Hearts, hailed the performance as a "glimpse of the future".

"He is the type of player that you want at Celtic," Lennon said of his new number 77, BBC Sport reported.

"He gets the crowd off their feet with his football intelligence. Obviously we need to keep a lid on it, but it's great that the fans have seen the glimpse of the future.

"The kid is 16 and we just want to develop him in the right way. He has been training with the first team and I had no hesitation giving him 45 minutes."