It was the kind of dazzling debut that the old cliché ‘real Roy of the Rovers stuff’ was invented for. And even Roy Race himself would have watched it and said ‘nope, we can’t compete with that’.

At just 16 years and 71 days, Jack Aitchison made the kind of explosive impact you’d get with a few sticks of dynamite as he marked his first appearance in Celtic’s first-team with a first touch that thundered into the net. It was a day of firsts as the Fauldhouse teenager broke more records than a bull in a second hand vinyl shop.

He became the youngest player in Celtic’s history to pull on the hoops and became the club’s youngest ever goal scorer. The young Bhoy wearing shirt No 99 scored Celtic’s 93rd and final goal of the league campaign in a rousing 7-0 rout of Motherwell. It was quite a story.

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“I have managed to get a few hours sleep since then,” said Aitchison with a smile. It wasn’t a dream after all, even if his barn-storming introduction was the stuff of light imaginings in those golden slumbers.

“I got a text on Friday night about 11.30pm that I was to train with the first-team on the Saturday and that there was a chance I would be in the squad,” he reflected. “I was told to meet at 6.30pm at the hotel and that I had a good chance of playing.

“I had no inkling that was going to happen. I was going to go out for lunch on Saturday after training with the under-17s. Instead, I trained with the first-team. I thought I would be playing Partick Thistle at Barrowfield.”


That whirlwind process of promotion certainly attracted the attention as Aitchison was propelled into the national spotlight. Even onlookers from the other side of the Old Firm applauded this act of teenage kicks.

“I’m really grateful for the support I’ve been given from all fans, even the Rangers fans,” he added. “The support I’ve got is just surreal. I had 1,200 Twitter followers on Sunday morning but now it’s gone up to nearly 8,000.”

Aitchison, a product of Celtic’s academy programme at St Ninian’s School in Kirkintilloch, may have become something of an overnight sensation but the rewards don’t come without hard work and sacrifice.

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“I am from Fauldhouse and I was lucky to have a coach who stays five minutes away, John McLaughlin, and he got me at my house at six in the morning to travel to school,” explained Aitchison of this daily duty. “We train t 7.30am, then finish at 8.45 and go to school after breakfast. After school I train at Lennoxtown and don’t get home until 8.30 at night.

“Sometimes I’d think: ‘why am I doing this?’ but, after getting my opportunity on Sunday, I know now why I did it. The school was brilliant and I got a really good education. I’d like to thank them for that as well. Sometimes I’d fall asleep during class because I was shattered from my training that morning.

“I’m not going to lie I don’t have many pals. When I moved schools I lost all my pals and by the time I got back home I couldn’t go out. That’s a sacrifice but it was worth it for this moment. Sometimes I wondered if I was doing the right thing because I would see my pals in pictures and wished I was there. But once they see you in pictures with the league trophy and scoring I realise that’s what I did it for. They all want to be pals with me again. They are all asking for my number.”

Sunday was a real family affair for Aitchison, and for his dad, George, it was a moment to savour after putting in his own hours to help the development of his talented son.

“My dad worked two jobs – he had a building job and a wee newsagents- and when he came home at about 7pm, he would take me out to the park and help me with extra training,” said Aitchison, who signed his first three-year professional contract a couple of weeks ago. “He’s been doing that for a couple of years. The family were all quite emotional when I scored. I’ve never seen my dad like that before. He’s normally telling me how badly I’ve done. But for that one time he was able to say he was proud of me.

“My ambition is to be a striker here. That isn’t going to be easy when you see the number there are at the club. But, ideally, I’d like to be one of the strikers that all the fans love.”

Now that would be real Roy of the Rovers stuff.