It’s not every day that a 13-year-old makes football headlines, but when Karamoko Dembélé was introduced for Celtic in the last few minutes of an U20s game against Hearts, the world went crazy.
The (very) young Ivorian was brought on in the 81st minute, and the whole thing was heartwarming and bizarre at the same time.
Rumours of big Premier League clubs being interested in taking him from Celtic Park followed, while articles about Football Associations trying to convince him to choose them over Ivory Coast weren’t far behind.
A few days later, it was Mustafa Kapi’s turn, a 14-year-old Turkish midfielder, making his first-team debut for Galatasaray three minutes from the end of a 2-0 friendly victory over Levski Sofia.
The news travelled around the globe, and Corriere della Serra have an article about it on Wednesday, but it’s not exactly a positive one.
AC Milan’s youth sector technical manager, Filippo Galli, was asked if the decisions from the managers to play the boys was the correct one.
His answer? “Not at all. At that age, it’s an unnecessary gamble. It isn’t our philosophy, as the risks are serious. I hope the club immediately put adequate psychological support at the disposal of the boys and their families.”
This opinion was immediately backed up by Giuseppe Vercelli, a sport psychologist.
He said: “A terrible choice, period. A boy of that age cannot make the difference between what is a game and what isn’t. The problem is once you have burnt the stages, turning back is no longer possible. To preserve a talent, you should always take it one step at a time.”
Rather damning, if you ask us.
It will now be interesting to see what happens to Karamoko Dembélé at Celtic.
Will he play again this season for the U20s, or was this just a one-off?
There has already been talk of Brendan Rodgers already looking at him for a Celtic Park appearance, but that just sounds ridiculous at this stage, let’s be honest.