Celtic of Scotland new arrival, John Afolabi is relishing his recent move from Southampton of England, as he believes he is now at a stand-out club that will help him further develop and make the best of his career.
While charting a bright course ahead of himself this season and beyond, the Nigerian-born lad said his decision to join the Scottish Premiership champions was easy for him, because he knows Celtics is a top-rated side and he identified their winning mentality as integral to his progress.
The 19-year-old attacker, who was born January 14, 2000 in Dublin, Ireland, is rated as a very promising centre forward that can also feature down either side of the flanks, with his agent, Lev Entertainment, citing various skills and technical attributes that make him a bright prospect.
Both his parents moved to Ireland in the early 2000s from Nigeria, with Afolabi growing up in Dublin and retaining affinity for both countries, but his mother is especially keen for him to line out for the Super Eagles.
As a youngster, Afolabi grew up idolising Chelsea’s Didier Drogba, but he lined out for local team, Marks Celtic, before moving on to Shamrock Rovers, Lourdes Celtic and St Joseph’s Boys, with which he caught the attention of Stoke City and Southampton at the 2016 Milk Cup.
He is already an Ireland youth international, with two goals from seven matches for his adopted country’s under-19 squad, but admits he could only day make the switch to don Nigeria’s colours.
He ultimately chose to sign for Southampton in 2016, after which his stock grew in leaps and bounds such that, in recent times, Afolabi has impressed with Ireland, the only country to qualify for the U19 Euros while retaining a 100% record.
With more high-profile young attackers such as Troy Parrott and Adam Idah unavailable in the elite phase of qualifying for the tournament, he stepped up with three goals in three games, while captaining the team on one occasion, but says no Nigerian representatives have contacted him to try to tempt the player away from playing for Ireland.
For now, though, he is not thinking of national team action, as he focuses on his new deal with Celtic, even as he cherishes moving outright on a summer transfer from Southampton in a three-year contract to Glasgow.
Afolabi said: “Celtic is a stand-out team for me, and they have a great reputation of bringing youngsters from the Academy through the ranks.
“This is a great club, with a great history, and a great place for me to be a part of. I look forward to helping out in the seasons ahead. The club has great facilities, and a great winning mentality, which is what I want to be a part of.
“My goal here is to be part of a winning squad, adopt that winning mentality, and learn from the boys. If I can learn from the senior players, I’ll hopefully have the chance to play in front of these great fans.
“With such a talented pool of players, it’s going to take time and hard work to break in, to prove myself to the manager. Hopefully I can get a bit of time on the pitch in the future to showcase what I’ve got.”