American youngster Cameron Harper talks up his game; MLS move and Celtic standards

By Euan Davidson

March 27, 2021

If former Celtic man Cameron Harper is to be believed, we missed a trick.

The 19-year-old USMNT youth international has broken his silence after moving to New York. With the Red Bulls, Harper will be hoping for first-team opportunities. While he did train with the main squad, and made his full debut against Hibs, Harper’s frustration led him to seek opportunities in his native USA.

The articulate American youngster talked up his game to US journalists in a press conference yesterday afternoon, Eastern Time (USA). Harper told reporters [NYRB]:

“I think I’m quite dynamic. I can bring a lot of different weapons. I can do a lot and help the team a lot, I think in training I’ve showed [that].

“All I need to is beat one guy, beat two guys, get the ball in the box, create stuff. I can play out wide, [manager Gerhard Struber] is going to use me in different types of positions, because hopefully he sees my quality, and knows I can impact the game in different places.

“Up top, in the 10, out wide… I’m good at getting myself out of situations anywhere on the field. At my age, I’m only 19, if I can have as many weapons as I can… that can only help myself, help the team.”

Cameron Harper in action for Celtic vs Hibs / (Photo by Rob Casey/SNS Group via Getty Images)

Cameron Harper on leaving Celtic

Frustratingly, for many Celtic supporters, Harper didn’t seem reluctant to leave. While he boasted of his development with the Bhoys, some of his comments make for sad reading.

It appears the attacker didn’t need much convincing to join New York Red Bulls. He continued:

“I think obviously Celtic are in a built of a rebuild. They’ve not been the best this year. Some of the older guys are on the way out. But I felt like I developed really well there in my three years. Learned a lot things there, got coached by some great coaches.

“But when I spoke to Red Bull and Kevin Thelwell, his plan for me fit exactly what I envisioned for me in the next few years of my career.

“My Mom was on the Zoom call, my Dad was on the Zoom call, and obviously they are a bit more wise than I am and they were giving me reasons why they thought it was a great idea.

“It just felt right. [New York Red Bulls] like young players, they like young dynamic players who are able to do things high up the field. At Celtic it can be hard to break through, you only get so many chances. Especially at a team that has to win every game.”

How’s it going my man, you having a good night aye? / (Photo by Getty Images/MLS)

Harper compares Celtic and New York Red Bulls

Finally, Cameron Harper spoke about the differences in training. At both Celtic and Red Bulls, the American said that he worked on certain attacking scenarios. Seemingly, he’s glad of the continuity.

Comparing Celtic and Red Bulls in terms of training, Harper said:

“They’re both high-pressure, high-intensity every day. You can’t give anything less than 100% or else you’re going to be found out pretty quickly.

“They’re also quite high-quality, too. Here, we’re learning to have a lot of numbers in tight situations. You’ve only got so much space, so much time to think about what you’re going to do. It was the same at Celtic – a lot of tight area stuff.

“It’s great that we’re working on our fitness a lot.

“I was obviously with the first team for a little bit and then things went a little bit sour, so I was back in the reserves, but I’m happy to be back with the first-team.”

What “went sour” precisely will be the question on Celtic fans’ lips. Did Lennon lose all faith in the youngster? Was his attitude the problem?

We’re unlikely to ever know. Harper’s, though, is a career worth following. If Celtic have missed out on an impactful player, the club will have themselves to blame.

At least the player himself has the self-belief to prove people wrong.

READ MORE: The game Celtic supporters should be watching tonight.