Celtic youngster Rocco Vata lauded by Irish media after U17 displays

By David Walton

October 13, 2021

Celtic youngster Rocco Vata has certainly had a big week with the Ireland U17 squad.

Called up for the second consecutive time, Vata managed to notch his second goal for the U17s against North Macedonia on Sunday. It was an absolute cracker too, with plenty of Celtic fans coming out to praise the son of former Hoops star Rudi.

He followed it up by playing his part in another impressive result – a 2-2 draw in Poland after coming back from 2 goals down. Vata netted his first ever goal for the U17s in September against Andorra. Since then, his stock has continued to grow.

Photo by Ross MacDonald – SNS GroupSNS Group via Getty Images

And it appears his early performances for his new international side have attracted the attention of the Irish Examiner. Vata has been singled out for praise by the popular Irish newspaper, who said the following about his recent emergence:

“It’s not many Ireland underage internationals whose call-ups are hailed by the president of another nation. But then most Ireland underage internationals aren’t sons of former Celtic footballers and most presidents aren’t as Celtic mad as Albanian president Ilir Meta.

“As Ireland U17s, already qualified for the elite phase in spring 2022, recovered from a disastrous start to seal top spot in Group 5 thanks to a sensational free-kick from Justin Ferizaj, it was once again notable that three of the standout stars of the team this past week have been of Albanian descent. Rocco Vata, son of former Albania captain and Celtic defender Rudi, and Ferizaj (twice) have scored stunning solo goals – all three efforts worthy of any FAI Goal of the Year shortlist, even since the seniors have started scoring in bulk again – and Kevin Zefi has been brilliant on the left wing while bagging a goal and threatening more.

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“In a post-Brexit landscape where the squad is largely homegrown, the international dimension is added by the likes of Vata and Zefi, who have already signed their first professional contracts with Celtic and Inter Milan respectively, while Ferizaj was recently on trial with AS Roma.”

Celtic talent Rocco Vata starting to get noticed, but cool head is absolutely vital

It’s clear that Vata has started to properly turn some heads. Not just amongst the Celtic support but now amongst the Irish media too.

Of course, it’s easy to forget that he’s only 15. There’s a long road ahead for Vata between his current status and Celtic first-team level. And in order to get there, a cool head is going to be absolutely essential.

It’s about not going over the top after hearing praise from outside influences. It’s about keeping the head down and continuing to listen closely to the coaches at Lennoxtown about how to improve his game. To Vata’s credit, that appears to be his sole priority at the moment.

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He needs to be given the room to breathe with the Celtic B team in order to flourish. Just being a part of Tommy McIntyre’s B squad is extremely impressive. Again, at 15, he clearly has talent beyond his years to be playing alongside other, more senior talents at Lennoxtown.

His emergence on the international youth stage is brilliant to see. It’s yet another just reward for all of his hard work. But he’ll know it’s only the beginning, and there will be many hoops to jump through before he’s knocking on Ange Postecoglou’s door.

However, at the same time, he’s entitled to enjoy the adulation of the support and the media. It looks like Celtic have a real talent on their hands here.

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