Celtic

Cameron Harper: Things to know about exciting American winger

Jan 12, 2021, 1:51 PM GMT
Cameron Harper
Cameron Harper of Celtic | Ian MacNicol/Getty Images
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Celtic's dream of ten successive top-flight Scottish titles looks to be dead in the water.

Neil Lennon's side have endured a tragic few weeks in their bid to retain their Scottish Premiership crown. After dominating the Old Firm derby yet somehow coming away empty handed, the club have been rocked by an outbreak of coronavirus within the first-team squad which has sidelined 13 senior players.

A goal conceded in the 91st minute against Hibernian on Monday saw Celtic denied all three points and pretty much summed up a wretched campaign for the club so far. However, among all the doom and gloom, there was one shining light.

With so many first-team regulars self-isolating, Lennon was forced to turn to the club's youth setup, with Cameron Harper handed his senior debut.

While Celtic fans are probably already excited to see the back of the 2020/21 season, the highly-rated19-year-old provides hope for the future.

Here's everything you need to know about the Bhoys' latest debutant.

1. Born and raised in California

Both of his parents are originally from Glasgow, however, they moved to America 30 years ago and Harper was born in California.

Despite being born and raised in America, the youngster has always followed Celtic and as a child he would watch their matches as well as visiting Scotland every couple of years.

However, if his Twitter account is anything to go by, he's also a keen follower of Premier League giants Liverpool.

2. Was a member of Pateadores development academy

Harper grew up playing football in southern California, and it wasn't long before his talent was recognised.

A large part of the youngster's development is owed to Pateadores, an American footballing academy whose alumni include the likes of former Rangers midfielder Maurice Edu, former USA international John Thorrington and current DC United centre-back Steve Birnbaum.

3. Capped for America at Under-20 level

Harper has already been capped at numerous youth levels for the USA including the Under-20s.

The last time the youngster met up with his international colleagues he was a standout performer in his side's clash with the Mexico Under-20s, and was subsequently offered the opportunity to train with the senior side.

Head coach Gregg Berhalter was pictured in conversation with Harper following the session.

4. Started out as a striker

Harper began his footballing career as a striker, but upon joining the Celtic academy, youth team coaches decided he would be more effective in the wide areas and he subsequently dropped back into midfield.

The youngster is capable of operating on either flank and is noted for his ability to beat a man. The 19-year-old is seen as something of a throwback to the wingers of old, with Celtic boss Lennon reportedly impressed by his work rate in training.

5. Most exciting prospect in the Celtic youth setup

Given Harper's inclusion in the Celtic starting XI against Hibs, it probably won't come as much of a surprise to hear that those within the club are hugely excited about the winger's potential.

Teammate Karamoko Dembele has long been talked of as the shining light in the Celtic academy, however, the development of Harper in recent years has seen him become the most talked about prospect in the Bhoys youth ranks.

6. Been on the fringes of the first team for a while

While his debut on Monday night may have propelled him into the limelight somewhat, Harper has actually been mixing it with the Celtic first team for some time now.

The 19-year-old was an unused substitute in Celtic's Scottish Premiership clash with Dundee United earlier this season, while he even made the bench in the Champions League qualifying rounds as Lennon's side were dumped out of the competition following a 2-1 defeat to Hungarian outfit Ferencvaros.

7. Decent FIFA 21 potential

While he starts out as a lowly 59 on FIFA 21, the game's developers clearly recognise Harper's potential too.

If you play your cards right, the young American will rise to a healthy 78 OVR.

As you might expect with a winger, his strongest in-game attributes are his acceleration, sprint speed, agility and balance.

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