At long last, Celtic have given the club’s supporters a chance to look forward to the future at Parkhead.
As the Hoops romped to a 4-0 victory on Wednesday night, it marked the end of Scott Brown at Paradise but the emergence of two of their best young prospects.
Adam Montgomery earned his first start for the Bhoys but it was the eventual coming of age for Karamoko Dembele that was the most exciting aspect of the win.
Celtic brushed aside St Johnstone with absolute ease and they will now forever be remembered as the opposition against which Dembele truly broke onto the scene.
The youngster has been hyped up beyond belief in the last few years, so much so that Dutch legend Ruud Gullit described him as “special.” Though, since making his debut as a plucky 16-year-old, he’s never made a big enough impression to become a regular.
That, however, looks set to change. The teenager still has a long way to go before he lives up to the hype but his effervescent 11 minutes on Wednesday was his best in the famous green and white yet.
The 18-year-old was a ray of energy, providing John Kennedy’s side with plenty of width down the right-hand channel. He took his goal like a player well beyond his years too.
Dembele raced down the right-hand side, drawing the St Johnstone defence towards him before he tucked the ball home from a tight angle.
The smile on his face was radiant but the relief inside of him was also clear to see.
This has been a difficult campaign for the winger but he’s come out of the other side, demonstrating immense maturity to respond in the way he has.
Dembele was offered an opportunity to move out on loan to Queen’s Park earlier this season but rejected the chance and was subsequently alienated from the first-team picture.
However, with Celtic’s season dwindling, he has emerged as a real positive from the closing weeks.
He may have taken just eight touches of the ball on Wednesday night but it was enough to show why has to be the future of this football club.
Dembele’s contract was initially thought to expire this summer but in an exciting reveal at full-time, Kennedy revealed he still had a year left on his terms.
For incoming manager Eddie Howe, he should be relishing this news. If he was watching this week, it’s likely he will have been particularly impressed.
A mass exodus may occur at Parkhead this summer and if the likes of Ryan Christie and Moi Elyounoussi both depart, a regular first-team berth should be on the cards for Dembele.
Two years on from when he made his debut, he is finally living up to all the hype. Howe will need to extract his rare qualities if and when he eventually arrives in Glasgow.