The brilliant Celtic connection to this weekend's Copa Libertadores final

By John McGinley

January 29, 2021

Celtic have a brilliant connection to Saturday’s Copa Libertadores final, the biggest match in South American club football.

Palmeiras take on Santos to conclude the 2020 edition of the tournament, delayed from last year due to the ongoing pandemic.

One player likely taking the field is midfielder Patrick de Paula, a prospect who grew up playing football in a Celtic shirt, as reported by Yahoo! and Reuters.

A community project known as Mario Lombardi Celtic was important to Patrick in his formative years.

That project has relied upon the generosity of Celtic supporters over the years. Fans have donated a large number of kits, enabling the local team to play in the iconic green and white hoops.

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Patrick has made immense progress and will now go up against Santos for the famous Copa Libertadores trophy this weekend.

He’s made 38 career appearances for Palmeiras since breaking into the first-team last year and is likely to play in the final [Transfermarkt].

He told Reuters about his fairytale rise: “This is a unique moment, the moment I’ve always waited for. This is a dream for me and for the school where I trained and a dream for all the community. I hope all the community are all tuned in on Saturday at 5pm for the final of the Libertadores.”

Coach and organiser Gerson Oliveira helped develop Patrick and has left no-one in any doubt about what Celtic means to the community club where the midfielder was scouted from.

Patrick de Paula celebrates scoring for Palmeiras / (Photo by Alexandre Schneider/Getty Images)

As quoted by Reuters, Gerson said ahead of the final: “This shirt is our second skin. We’re not Vasco or Flamengo, we’re all Celtic here, we live and breathe Celtic now. I am a Flamengo fan but I have become more of a Celtic fan.”

The global reach of Celtic never ceases to amaze.

Who knows – with the right ambition could we even make a push to sign this Celtic-inspired midfield hero in future?

He’s on our radar now, that’s for sure.

In other news, Celtic can’t afford to dodge the Neil Lennon question just because Peter Lawwell is leaving.