After 13-year-old Moussa Dembele made his debut for Celtic under 20s last night, the pressure is firmly fixed on his shoulders.
And with that in mind, Sanjeev Mann turned the spotlight on some of the young talents that failed to live up to all their expectations. Here’s his starting line-up of 11 Scots who could … and maybe should … have made it big.
Goalkeeper: Mark Brown; Centre backs: Danny Wilson, John Kennedy and Craig Reid. Midfielders; John Fleck, Mark Kerr, Nigel Quashie and Jamie Ness. Strikers; Derek Riordan, Craig Beattie and Islam Feruz.
It’s a line-up to get the fans talking, but Sanjeev now takes things a step further with a more detailed look at the careers of his “top six”.
- Striker – Derek Riordan
Having started his career at Hibs scoring 54 goals in 113 games things were looking up for the youngster. After winning Scottish PFA young player of the year in 2005 he earned himself a move to Celtic. The Edinburgh outfit had already rejected moves from Cardiff, Rangers, Locomotive Moscow and Kaiserslautern. In two years at the Hoops, Riordan still couldn’t find a place in the first eleven. He returned to Hibs for three seasons and managed to score 36 goals, but this was when his career hit a wall. From Chinese club Shaanxi Chanba to East Fife, he eventually couldn’t find a club this summer and remains a free agent after leaving York.
- Striker – Craig Beattie
A bright start to his Celtic career between 2003-2007gave him a move to championship side West Bromwich Albion. During his period at Celtic he also earned seven senior Scotland appearances, scoring once against Georgia in a Euro Qualifier in Alex McLeish’s first game in charge. After a not so successful spell at West Brom, Beattie played for a flurry of English clubs including Crystal Palace and Swansea City but couldn’t seal down a place in the staring 11. This saw a return to Scotland in 2012 for Hearts. Four years of struggling in the SPL saw him move down the leagues to Edinburgh City. His 13-year career tally currently stands at 49 goals.
- Striker – Islam Feruz
Having come through the Celtic youth ranks and being set up as Scotland’s next big thing the pressure was on Feruz to show it.
He declared in 2009 that he would represent the Scottish National team after the SFA pushed through a rule change to enable him to do so. He impressed at Celtic but at the tender age of 16 he rejected a professional contract from the Hoops and decided to move on to premier league club Chelsea at the beginning of their Champions league winning season. He has also represented Scotland at various levels racking up 31 appearances and was the youngest player to represent them at under 17 level aged just 14. But five years into his Chelsea career, he is yet to make a senior appearance, and has been farmed out on loan to Crete, then Blackpool and Hibs – anda 24-hour spell at Russian club Krylia Sovetov Samara before leaving as he was homesick. He is currently playing for Belgium club Excel Mouscron.
- Midfielder – Jamie Ness
Ness made his debut for Rangers aged 19 and had an impressive first two seasons at the club. During this period he made 18 appearances for Scotland under 17’s and 19’s. Stoke City were quick to pounce in 2012 and signed him on a three-year deal. However, after two years, he hadn’t made an appearance in the senior squad, so moved on to Leyton Orient, and now plays for Scunthorpe United. Now 25, he has only made 88 professional appearances.
- Defender – John Kennedy
Thirty-three-year-old Kennedy started his career with Celtic and came through the youth ranks back in 1999 and made 45 appearances for the club. He was even part of the Celtic side that earned a goalless draw at the Camp Nou and sent the Catalans out of the Uefa Cup. He was expected to develop even further, but a terrible injury when his knee shattered in his Scotland debut against Romania brought his career to a halt. He returned to training in 2006 but a year later he was stretchered off in a champions league match against Shakhtar Donetsk which turned out to be his last game for Celtic. In 2008 he made another return, this time for Norwich City in a loan spell and impressed in his 16 appearances. Yet another injury hampered his career at Norwich though, and after damaging his knee again, Kennedy was forced to retire from football.
- Defender – Danny Wilson
Centre-back Danny Wilson came through the youth ranks at Rangers and made his debut for the Gers aged 18. Fourteen games in his first season set him up for big things and saw him compared to Liverpool’s to Alan Hansen – who he joined in a £2million transfer. Despite high expectations, he made only two appearance in the next two years, resulting in a loan move to Blackpool. His career picked up in 2013 with a move to Hearts, and then a return to Rangers in 2015, but many still think a lot of his potential remains unfulfilled.