football

Dubai schoolboy earns Celtic trial

Twelve-year-old Leo Mulrainey impressed during recent camp at Nad Al Sheba

By Ashley HammondSenior Reporter
13:19 April 15, 2018

Dubai: Dubai schoolboy Leo Mulrainey has been offered a trial at Celtic after impressing during a recent camp at Nad Al Sheba.

The It’s Just Football (IJF) Academy linked up with the Scottish champions and Global Sports Recruitment, to stage Dubai’s first high-performance US College training camp at Nad Al Sheba Sports Complex last month.

It was the first time a professional club had tied up with scholarship providers in Dubai to give local players aged 11-18 the chance to earn a US scholarship.

Twelve-year-old Mulrainey, a Dubai-born British centre-midfielder who trains with Mini Madrid, attends Dubai English Speaking College and lives in the Green Community, impressed the most, and is now slated for a summer trial in Glasgow.

“I was very impressed with the standard of young players attending the recent weeklong camp,” said Celtic academy coach Graham Diamond. “In particular, 12-year-old Leo Mulrainey, who played in the Under-13s and showed up really well.

“His desire, work rate, courage, commitment, enthusiasm, attitude and technical ability shone through in matches.

“Immediately he was asked to play for the Under-18s in a match and he didn’t hesitate to say yes. He scored in that game and despite being four or five years younger than his opponents, he didn’t look out of place, in fact he was one of the better players on the pitch.

“We are delighted to offer Leo the opportunity to come to Glasgow with his dad soon to experience first-hand what it takes to become a Celtic academy player.”

Leo’s dad Eddie explained that his son had travelled to Spain four times to play La Liga youth teams with Michel Salgado’s Spanish Soccer Schools, and won the Bobby Charlton award three years running in England, an honour that was once bestowed on David Beckham.

“But this for him eclipses that,” said the 41-year-old event production boss, who is originally from Scotland. “He’s beside himself to be honest — over the moon. When they handed him a shirt after training he kept it together for about 30 seconds before crying. It means that much to him. They were tears of joy. All he’s ever wanted to do — as every kid does — is play for his team, and Celtic is his club.

“He’s had a bit of recognition over in the UK, but to have that cemented over here with two coaches from Celtic who think he deserves to go to the UK and pit himself against their Under-13s because they think he’s good enough — to get that from the club he loves — is phenomenal.

“It’s made him two foot taller and he’s working three-times as hard. He comes in from school and goes straight out to the garden to work on his left and right touch. I just want to see him enjoy himself. If something happens great, but we know only 0.5 per cent of every player that goes through an academy ends up making it. So, we just want him to give the best account of himself possible to be able to show all the hard work he’s put in and the IJF coaches have been brilliant in giving him some one-to-one tuition before he goes so he can be in the best condition to give the best account of himself.”