Showcasing Celtic Academy – Frame, Vata, Kelly, Johnston, Welsh, Ralston, Jamesy and Calmac

Celtic Academy Operations Manager Brian Meechan gives a 2023 review and now’s the time for you to help The Celtic Star support the Celtic Academy as they strive to create the Celtic stars of the future…

I would like to start by thanking all the supporters who participate in the Celtic Pools Lotteries for their continued support and contribution to the Academy. This allows us to provide an excellent working environment for all our young players and staff, and is a major factor in developing players to represent Celtic at first-team level.

Mitchel Frame of Celtic vieds with Dávid Hancko of Feyenoord as he makes his first team debut during the UEFA Champions League match between Celtic FC and Feyenoord at Celtic Park Stadium on December 13, 2023. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

After seeing several youngsters make their first team debut last season, two more have followed in their footsteps in recent months. 17-year-old Mitchel Frame made his senior debut on the European stage in the UEFA Champions League against Feyenoord, and 18-year-old Daniel Kelly came off the bench to make his first appearance in the Scottish Cup tie against Buckie Thistle, both having been with the club since the age of nine.

Daniel Kelly of Celtic is seen during the the Celtic v Buckie Thistle – Scottish Cup match at Celtic Park on January 21, 2024 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

This match in the Fourth Round of the Scottish Cup also proved to be a landmark moment for another of our Academy youngsters as Rocco Vata went on to score his first senior competitive goal in the 5-0 victory.

Stuart Knight of Buckie Thistle saves from Rocco Vata of Celtic during the the Celtic v Buckie Thistle – Scottish Cup match at Celtic Park on January 21, 2024 . (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

As the club continues to look to develop the next generation of Celtic players, the construction at Barrowfield, which is currently underway, is a new development which will provide a first-class working environment for our young players and coaching staff to develop, whilst maintaining our links with the past, given that this is the ground where the Lisbon Lions trained on a daily basis.

The last year has seen our Academy players compete in some of the most competitive competitions across Europe, including the UEFA Youth League, Premier League International Cup, and other various tournaments across the continent. We believe this enhances our Player Development Programme, providing the opportunity to go up against some of the best clubs from across the globe such as Ajax, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and a number of English sides to name just a few.

Alongside these developments on the pitch, off the pitch we have continued our School Partnership with St Ninian’s High School, Kirkintilloch. This ensures that our young players not only develop their football skills, but are able to achieve academic results should they choose a different career path. The support from Mr McLaughlin and his staff has once again been exceptional, helping us to achieve our shared goals.

Rocco Vata of Celtic celebrates after he scores his team’s fifth goal during the the Celtic v Buckie Thistle – Scottish Cup match at Celtic Park on January 21, 2024 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

In 2023, we were also delighted to appoint former Motherwell player and first-team Manager, Steven Hammell, to the role of Head of Academy Coaching. Steven has been and will be working alongside Chris McCart in developing our coaching staff as well as our young players. He has been with us for just over six months and continues to add to our programme with his vast coaching experience at senior and Academy level.

20th August 2023; Rugby Park, Kilmarnock, Scotland: Scottish Viaplay Cup Football, Kilmarnock versus Celtic; Anthony Ralston of Celtic arrives for the match

With all of this in the mind, across the coming year we aim to further develop well-rounded players, who go on to represent Celtic at the highest level, by providing them with a first-class coaching and playing environment.

29th July 2023 Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Ireland: Pre Season Football Friendly, Celtic versus Wolverhampton Wanderers Stephen Welsh of Celtic FC on the ball. Photo  ActionPlus  PeterxFitzpatrick

Whilst none of the above would be possible without your support, other main contributors to our programme are those who are tasked with recruiting the best talent in the country, our scouting department. We are also very grateful for the support we receive from our wellbeing staff, who have been invaluable over the last 12 months, supporting our players, parents, and staff. Finally, the support of our administration staff who facilitate all the above, arranging flights, buses, and match facilities throughout the year.

Brian Meechan
Academy Operations Manager
Celtic FC Academy

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About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor David Faulds has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email

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