DEDRYCK BOYATA was born into and now lives in a place called the real world.

It's not somewhere everyone in his profession is wholly familiar with.

This is a man who came from nothing to make absolutely something of himself in football. Those who he grew up with in the poorer part of Brussels were not so lucky. The same can also be said of some would-be pros he met at Manchester City who didn’t make the grade.

This Celtic defender is enjoying an unexpected renaissance at the club and, when you speak to the articulate and likeable Boyata, it’s hard not to root for him. His feet are on the ground, his head miles below the clouds.

Boyata was so out of the picture at Celtic that many supporters would have felt he’d played his last game for the club. These were dark times for the 26-year-old Belgian; however; this is one footballer with a sense of perspective.

His girlfriend helped as the months went by without him being even close to the first-team. Kolo Toure, who has emerged as the most influential figure in the dressing room, kept telling his team-mate to be patient and that his time would come.

However, it is full credit for Boyata himself that he kept his head, worked hard in the gym into the early hours to make sure that when Brendan Rodgers gave him the nod, he would ready. Which he was.

And it also says a lot about his character that when things were bad, and no professional worth anything enjoys not playing, he knew that for all the frustration he felt, he was still one of the lucky ones.

“I can compare my situation with people I grew up with and my situation is totally different,” said Boyata. “My life is way better than theirs. I have friends who are not in football. But it’s maybe better to compare my life with others who were in football.

“I moved with a group of people to Manchester and while I wasn’t playing recently, I was in the national team, at Celtic and still in a stable position. I told myself there are others worse off in life than me.

"I told myself that if it doesn’t happen now it might happen later. I still have that chance and I’m still in a good position.

“There are people I went to City with who are not in football and are doing nothing. It’s a big difference. I have talked with players and we know that we have a good life in football. There are things around football that can help you not to think about difficulties.”

Boyata has had to work for everything. A lot harder than most. He came from poverty to get on the books at Manchester and for a non-English speaker the move to England was understandable far from simple.

But when you have a dream, you will do just about anything to pursue it.

“I don’t know what I would be doing if I didn’t play football,” Boyata admitted. "I started football late when I was 13. Why? Playing football meant you needed to pay for the equipment or whatever. My situation wasn’t the best when I was younger.

“My father used to play football in Belgium as well, but I just played for a community team and around school. That was it. Even growing up, I was playing for a team in the First Division for their Under-17s and 18s. I only had three evening sessions a week. But if I had too much homework then my father wouldn’t allow me to go and train.

“When I went to England, it seemed crazy. It was nothing like I expected. I remember speaking to my father and saying I wanted to go back home. It was training at 9.30am, lunch, weights at 1pm, another training session at 2.30pm and school at 5pm.

“You would get home at 7pm. And I was going to home to digs, where everyone spoke English. I was the only one speaking French. It was hard but there are no regrets. Today, I love my life. I feel blessed.”