1 ON 1: Celtic's Karamoko Dembele
Hoops Wonderkid Loving Pre-Season With The First Team
Karamoko, how have you enjoyed the first week of preseason.
It’s been really good. It’s been hard obviously because it’s preseason and we’ve done a lot of running. It’s been hard but obviously got through this week and looking forward to next week.
That's just all about laying the foundations in terms of your fitness. We've had a look at some of the sessions. We've seen it does look pretty intensive.
It’s really intense but then this is my first preseason with the first team. It’s good to get that experience and as well with the boys. It’s been really intense but I got through it.
Have you noticed a step up in intensity from training with the reserves?
Yes, it’s much different because the players are more experienced, much better, more physical. It will help me in the future injuries, so that’s a good thing.
A lot of people say that for young players, it's better for their experience to play with more experienced players and even grown men. Have you really found the benefit in that?
Yes, it’s been really good because you need to– everything is much quicker when you play first team. You need to think quicker. You need to play quicker. It’s really good, to be honest, for me and my progression in football.
How have the guys been with you?
Everyone’s been good and helping me through the tough times in preseason. Obviously I’m not on the same level of development as them as they are more developed boys but they’ve helped me with that as well, with managing my body. It’s been good.
Because literally you have just turned 16, you're not fully grown yet.
I’m not as developed as everyone yet. It’s good.
When we last spoke to you around The New Year when you first signed, what kind of reaction have you had since then out and about?
There’s obviously been a lot of attention and a lot of pressure but I’ve dealt with it well, to be honest, with me and my family and everyone just helping me get through it, just keep my head and just focus on football purely.
You broke into the first team in the last game of the season trophy day at Celtic Park. That reception you got when you came on and then you looked as if you were really into.
It was unbelievable because then I wasn’t really expecting it as everyone. When I was coming on everyone was screaming my name. It was crazy. It was quite hard not to smile but it was really nice.
Did you think to yourself when you came on, "Yes, absolutely, I'm doing the right thing here"?
As soon as I got on the pitch, just never wanted the game to finish. It was just that good a feeling. Looking forward to this season, hopefully get another chance.
It would've been understandable if you had been nervous coming on that game but you didn't look nervous at all.
No, it was something to look forward to as there’s been a lot of build up but then finally getting to do it, it was just kind of a relief in a way. Just being able to play football is just really good.
It seemed to mean so much to your family as well. We saw the way they were with you at full-time.
They’ve been with me through my journey, so it was obviously nice for them as well just to see me do well.
I presume it just gives you that desire to want more?
Yes, this season it’s just focus on trying to get in the first team and get as many opportunities as can. Do that in training, obviously prove it in games as well, just be relentless with it.
What's the new manager been like with you in terms of words of advice?
He’s been really good with me. He’s just saying just keep my head down, just focus on football purely. That’s it basically.
I know you'll be there and a few of the other younger boys coming through going there. Will you be using this as a chance to show that you can be equal to the older more experienced players?
Yes, it’s obviously another opportunity for me to get into that first team and just learn from everyone as well because this is my first preseason with them. It will be really good to see what it’s like. There’s going to be games over there as well so just get an opportunity to play in the games and prove myself.