Recent Celtic signing Moussa Dembele is relishing the chance to test himself at the highest level, after firing his side through to the Champions League play-offs.
Tied at 2-2 on aggregate against Astana in the third qualifying round, the 20-year-old’s 92nd minute penalty put Brendan Rodgers’ side through, and he will now be hoping to emulate his idols when Celtic faces Hapoel Be’er Sheva.
“I grew up watching the Champions League as one of the biggest competitions in European and world football,” Dembele said.
“My heroes were Ronaldinho, Ronaldo – the Brazilian one – Samuel Eto’o, Thierry Henry and Nicolas Anelka. These were the types of players I liked as an attacker and they all did well in the Champions League.
“As a French kid I loved both Henry and Anelka, they both had a lot of ability and talent. It would be a dream for me to play in this competition.”
Dembele signed for Celtic this off-season after three years at Fulham, where he notched up 15 goals and six assists in the Championship last term.
Watching his friend and former Paris Saint-Germain youth team-mate, Kingsley Coman, is spurring Dembele on, along with a desire to return Celtic to the Champions League.
“My friend Kinglsey Coman was playing for Bayern Munich against Arsenal so I went to watch him. Kingsley is a big friend. We were there together for seven years and also played together in the national team,” he said.
“They [the fans] are desperate for the team to get into the Champions League but as players we want it just as bad.
“Now we are two games away and hopefully we can make it and everyone will be happy.”