MOST young footballers would think twice before invoking the example of Zlatan Ibrahimovic in an interview.

But, then, Celtic youngster Bahrudin Atajic may be no ordinary football player.

The 19-year-old, who like Ibrahimovic is Swedish of Bosnian extraction and began his footballing journey at Malmo, is fearlessly following in the daunting footsteps of the Paris St Germain superstar and bears the inevitable comparisons with good grace.

For the record, while Atajic lacks the height and barrel chested physique of the man he continues to idolise, the teenager does share his knack for finding the goal and flair for producing the unexpected. After going unused on three occasions as a substitute for Celtic this season, Atajic is knocking on the door of his maiden appearance for Neil Lennon's first team after a prolific season in which the Parkhead side did the double of the Scottish FA Youth Cup and the inaugural running of the Scottish Premier League Under-20 title.

"I have been compared to Zlatan Ibrahimovic quite a lot but I don't mind," said Atajic, who scored the crucial second goal as Celtic defeated Dunfermline 3-1 in the Youth Cup final at Hampden on Wednesday night. "We are all special individuals. They can compare and there may be similarities in some ways.

"He also played for Malmo so there are lots of similarities in our background but we are different players and different people. But, at the moment, he's my favourite player, he's the one I like to watch the most. I look up to him."

For all of Celtic's unprecedented youth success – this was their 13th youth cup win from a total of 30, and completed a fourth consecutive double – the real battle for these young players begins now. Recent history shows that victory in youth competitions is no reliable guarantee of a long-term future at the club and Atajic, who is still eligible for both Sweden and Bosnia, is well aware the next 12 months of his time at Celtic will define the parameters of his career. For all his obvious potential, the path to a first-team striker's jersey at Parkhead is littered with bodies, not least in the form of Tony Watt, who despite a dramatic Champions League goal against Barcelona is still eligible for the Under-20 league. Another new target man is slated to arrive this summer.

"I have been in Glasgow now for three-and-a-half years," said Atajic. "I was with Malmo for 11 years before that. My dad took to me the stadium when Malmo were signing up players and I have loved the game ever since as football is in my blood. My father played amateur football in Bosnia and my brother used to play and my sister is involved in sport also.

"I have one year left on my contract and I'm working hard to get a chance in the first team. In the end that's what it's all about. The manager speaks to me and he tells me if I keep working hard then my chance will come. I hope there is a chance for that to happen this season as it would be a big thing for me to get my debut."

If not, the Scottish game is littered with players good enough to make a career in the game, just not necessarily at Celtic. "They all know and we know that not every player will make it into our first team," said John Kennedy, under-20 coach at Celtic. "Hopefully, we develop them enough that if they do take a wee hit they come back stronger for it."