Look down at the current crop of young players developing at Celtic and it’s arguable that not many of them will see a future for themselves with the Bhoys.
Cameron Harper has already departed for New York Red Bulls after a lack of first-team opportunities while their crown jewel Karamoko Dembele could leave in the summer.
Dembele has been restricted to just four senior outings since breaking through as a 16-year-old and his contract is set to expire in the summer.
If he leaves it will be a big blow to Celtic and the coaching staff who had such high hopes for the teenager. That being said, at least he’s actually been afforded a chance.
Standing at just 5 foot 5, he is a small individual but that hasn’t stopped him from making waves at youth level. What’s strange about that, however, is that he’s not been released.
After all, the Hoops took the decision to axe a player in 2009 who would later go on to become one of the best defenders in world football.
The man in question is a certain Andy Robertson. The Liverpool full-back has developed into a feared left-back, a player who is winning the biggest of trophies on a regular basis.
He was released by Celtic when he was in the academy, being handed a rather peculiar excuse in the process: “I was let go by Celtic at Under-15 level for being too small. That was the reason they gave me anyway,” Robertson said when playing for Dundee United in 2013.
Of course, the Bhoys would not have been able to foretell what was going to happen with their Scottish prodigy, but he has evidently surpassed all expectations.
Robertson is no longer too small; instead, he is a presence and force to be reckoned with.
After departing Celtic as a teenager, the Scot moved to Queens Park, a move he attributes with significantly aiding his development.
“I went to Queen’s Park and people might have thought that was a strange decision to go from Celtic to there,” Robertson admitted.
“I guess it is a step-down but Queen’s Park have a great youth set-up and they made me the player I am today,” he concluded.
Robertson eventually ended up at Tannadice and then moved south of the border to go and play for Hull City.
Despite being relegated from the Premier League with the Tigers, he sealed a move to Liverpool where his transfer value has risen astronomically. He was signed by the Reds for an initial £8m but according to Transfermarkt, the full-back is now valued at a staggering £63m.
It’s not a surprise to see his value estimated around that mark. He has become a key component of a Liverpool side who won the Champions League in 2018/19 and then won the Premier League in 2019/20.
Speaking in 2019, Kenny Dalglish opened up on Robertson’s remarkable rise to the top; “For Andy to be where he was just seven years ago – when he was let go by Celtic – to where he is now, is a classic example to any young footballer that you should never give up and never stop believing,” he commented.
In becoming one of the best in his position on the planet, the 27-year-old defines a modern-day full-back. He rampages forward, beats his man and then puts a tantalising ball into the box.
In the season Liverpool won the Champions League, the Scotland international registered a considerable 13 assists. He subsequently provided another 12 last term. Now earning £100k-per-week at Anfield, his rise to stardom has been captivating.
Words from former Liverpool defender Jose Enrique sum things up: “He’s been the best left-back in the world for the last few years. I know everyone talks about [Alphonso] Davies from Bayern Munich but if you talk about consistency and level of performance all the time, this guy [Robertson] is unbelievable.”
Since his departure, Celtic have let fellow left-backs Aaron Hickey and Kieran Tierney slip through their net too. The latter was a first-team regular for a number of years but it’s clear they made a huge mistake with Robertson.
He is an elite player; one the Hoops let go for a grand total of £0. It has been a costly blunder.