From Celtic to Cowdenbeath.  

Their worlds could not be further apart.  

Robbie Deas met the opportunity to head to the then League Two club on loan as a teenager.  

Pampered at Celtic, it’s pretty clear that the academy players at the Parkhead club are very well looked after.  

It's easy to see why a sizable number of youth products at the likes of Celtic, or Rangers for that matter, would not fancy turning out for the Blue Brazil.  

Deas was different, though. The young defender, grounded firmly by his dad, uncle Paul and brother, who all played football to a good level, wanted to face the harsh realities of playing against men at a young age. Learning how to defend, use his body wisely, and even some of the darker arts of the game.  

The 23-year-old had his nose burst during his first training session with the now-Lowland League club. It was certainly an eye-opener for him. But Kilmarnock’s new centre-back insists it was experiences such as that which helped him to become the man he is. 

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“I have had to work to get where I am now,” the defender opened up. “I went on loan at a young age and when I went to Cowdenbeath when I was young and I remember some other players saying I was too good for that level. 

“But you don’t realise how tough the leagues are and some have found out later in their careers how hard it can be. There are a lot of good players down the leagues and it is a massive learning experience. 

“In my first training session, I got my nose burst open and you don’t get that at Celtic. There it was about possession and dominating games. But as a defender, you need to learn how to defend. 

“I didn’t realise how pampered I was at Celtic until you went somewhere else. But that is the reality. 

“I feel youth football, especially at Celtic, is good to a certain age but you have to learn proper football.  

“Youth football is about learning different skills, but I had to learn quickly in League Two to defend against bigger, quicker, stronger strikers. 

“I think a lot more boys should look to go on loan at a younger age and learn as it was the best thing for me. 

“I think those experiences helped make me a man. At Cowdenbeath and Alloa they were part-time but I learned a lot at Cowdenbeath and it was the same at Alloa and Inverness.  

“I am so glad I went down the route I have as I have played more than 150 games to get me here. I am more than ready to be in the Premiership. 

“My family are so important in the decisions I make. I moved to Inverness to stand on my own two feet as I was still living at home with mum and dad before that. So, I was still pampered but the best thing I did was moving away. 

“I never realised how big Killie were until we played them in the Championship two years ago.” 

Deas tasted success against his current employers just a matter of months ago in the Scottish Cup. He helped Billy Dodds’ men run out 2-1 winners in the quarter-final tie in the Highlands. Of course, Caley Thistle went on to reach the final, eventually losing out to Celtic. 

Nothing was set in stone at that point for Deas in terms of his future, but he did admit that talks with the manager had taken place.  

During the said match, Deas fouled Liam Polworth in what was a robust challenge around the halfway line.  

Now teammates with the midfielder, Deas said there has been a bit of a laugh in the changing room about that moment which ruled Polworth out for several weeks. 

He said: “I didn’t know I was coming to Killie at that time as I was speaking to other clubs too. 

“But I was an Inverness player at the time and I had to do the best for them and I enjoyed that Cup run. 

“Poly got in touch and there was a bit of banter with him; he is a great player and a great lad.” 

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He added: “I can’t wait for the first taste of Premiership football. Any time I played Premiership opposition in the cups I loved them. Even the Scottish Cup final was incredible and I want to play in games like that. 

“I had offers from Premiership clubs and down in England but I felt this was the right move for me. 

“When I spoke to the gaffer and the project and how they want to build on last season, it is an exciting time. You can see from the quality of the signings, we want to be pushing up the league. 

“Even when I broke my leg last season, he spoke to me early and told me he wanted to sign me. That was massive for me.”