Man City and Juventus among major European clubs scouting young Ireland star, Rocco Vata
"Celtic have always been in my heart"
Rocco Vata has been with the Celtic academy since he was seven years old. He is not far off a senior squad breakthrough, but several big European clubs have him square on their radar.
The 17-year-old, who was born in Glasgow and who's father, Rudi, played for Celtic, plays underage international football with Ireland. He qualifies to play for the Republic of Ireland through his mother, Anne Frances, and has already turned heads at U15 and U17 levels.
Vata is part of a Celtic academy that is really producing the goods, of late. Stephen McManus and former Cektic and Ireland defender Darren O'Dea are nurturing a talented crop of players, and some of the big European clubs are starting to pay closer and closer attention.
Already, Celtic have lost the likes of Liam Morrison [Bayern Munich], Ben Doak [Liverpool] and Josh Adam [Manchester City], with Rocco Vata the next player being linked to a switch away from Paradise. It has been reported, in Italy, that the teenager has been scouted by Juventus, Roma and AC Milan, while Arsenal and Manchester City are also tracking his progress.
'We’re aware of the progress they’re all making' - Postecoglou
Rocco Vata scored in recent outings against Fulham and RB Leipzig, in the Uefa Youth League, and his big hope for this season is to make a senior appearance, or two. "That's what I'm working towards," he said. "Hopefully I can make my debut at some point."
Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou was asked, after his side's weekend win over Hearts, about the club's underage set-up, and if they were in danger of losing too many young talents.
"With all these things," he said, "it’s about having a strategy in place. Our B team this year, we’re really happy with the progress of a number of players there.
"Stephen McManus and Darren O’Dea are doing a great job. I’m obviously closely linked with them and following their progress. All we can do is provide that pathway.
"I know you say we’ve lost a few, but we’ve got Tony Ralston, Callum McGregor and James Forrest who are living, breathing examples of if you stay at this football club, you can have a pretty good career. It’s not like we don’t have a formula for that.
"You deal with every case individually. This year we’ve closely aligned the B team with the first team so that they’re training up here at Lennoxtown, I see them every day, I talk to the coaches every day. We’re aware of the progress they’re all making and we feel confident we can provide them a pathway to becoming Celtic footballers in the near future."
The coaches and mentors at Celtic will be urging Rocco Vata to stay the course in Glasgow for the next couple of years, and see where that takes time. The youngster is certainly ambitious and already has his eyes on Jim Crawford's Ireland Under 21 squad and, beyond that, Stephen Kenny's senior side.
"I feel that I'm ready," he declared, earlier this year.