Thursday 28 September 2017, 07:14

Teamwork illuminates Moussa’s marvel

  • Dembele’s well-worked team goal nominated for the FIFA Puskás Award

  • It involved all 11 Celtic players, 25 passes, a rabona and a backheel

  • The goalscorer has been lauded by some of Europe’s leading coaches

Moussa Dembele spent much of last season being showered with praise. Pep Guardiola described him as “exceptional”, while Zinedine Zidane said he fully understood why his fellow countryman had become “one of the most talked about young strikers in Europe”.

“He isn’t just scoring goals - he is scoring big goals, important goals,” said Zidane. “That to me is always the sign of a great player. I played with the greatest strikers, Ronaldo, Henry, Raul, and you knew on the biggest occasions they would win you games – and Dembele is already showing that.”

With such adulation, inevitably, came speculation. It was widely reported in January that the then 20-year-old was set for a £30 million move to Chelsea, while Paris Saint-Germain, Marseille, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal were also heavily linked.

Celtic, though, held on to their prize asset. Manager Brendan Rodgers, asked earlier about a reported £15 million bid, made that intention clear. “15m? That’s his left toe,” said the former Liverpool manager.

“I worked with Didier Drogba at Chelsea and I think Moussa’s of that ilk," Rodgers added. "The kid is clearly one of the great potential strikers in the world.”

Yet for all the praise lavished on Dembele and his contribution to Celtic’s fourth domestic treble – achieved without losing a single game – it was not individual brilliance that earned him a nomination for the Puskás Award.

Instead, and by his own eager admission, the appeal of his shortlisted strike – one which sealed a hat-trick in a 5-2 win at St Johnstone – emanates from the contribution of the collective.

All 11 Celtic players were involved in the move, with 25 passes capped by an unlikely rabona from right-back Mikael Lustig and a delightful back-heel from Callum McGregor to set up the shot. “It added another few million onto Dembele's price tag, momentarily turned Lustig into Maradona and had Celtic fans bragging about Total Football,” reported the following day’s Daily Record newspaper.

Lustig described it as “a great goal,” admitting: “I’m not sure I’ve been part of one like it before.”

The scorer, besides quoting the late, great Johan Cruyff on quoting the late, great Johan Cruyff on , also revelled in having been a part of something special. “It was one of the best team goals I’ve been involved in because there was a lot of technical stuff in there, penalty-box skills,” said Dembele. “This goal was a pleasure for me.”

A pleasure for Dembele to score, and a pleasure for the world to watch. But only you, the users, can decide who collects the Puskás Award, so don’t forget to cast your vote.