New Celtic signing Alexandro Bernabei admits it is a dream to follow in the footsteps of two of Argentina’s greatest ever footballers by plotting a course to Europe.
The left-back sealed a £3.75million transfer to the Hoops yesterday from his native South America, joining Ange Postecoglou’s side on a five-year-deal from Lanus.
Bernabei now becomes the latest Argentine to follow the likes of iconic duo Lionel Messi and the late Diego Maradona to base themselves in Europe and he hopes his move to Parkhead can earn him a call-up to the senior international team in the coming years.
His old club published a picture of a youthful-looking Bernabei alongside World Cup-winning hero Maradona following his departure.
Speaking to the press for the first time at his official unveiling, the 21-year-old said: “First of all, Diego was a World Champion and I had a chance to meet him when there was a friendly between Lanus and Gimnasia.
“For me it was just really, really meaningful to be able to meet him. For my career and also for my life, for all Argentinians. I don’t think I’m at the stature of the best, like Messi and Maradona. I wouldn’t make that comparison.
“However, I would really like to follow in their footsteps in terms of playing in Europe for as long as I can. It was a dream of mine to come and play in Europe.
“Being the first Argentinian player at Celtic means I would like to open the door for a lot more Argentinian players to come to the club. My family and my friends will all know about Celtic.
“I hope this will allow me one day to make another one of my dreams come true and play for the (senior) Argentina national team.”
Bernabei revealed he didn’t think twice about leaving his family and friends behind to travel halfway across the world as he immediately outlined his targets.
He added: “The first thought I had when I heard about interest was that I was very hopeful it was something that would come to fruition.
“I was really looking forard to playing for Celtic. I didn’t need to speak to anyone. The transfer was going to happen and I had already made up my mind that was I was going to come.
“I think the Champions League is one of the most important competitions in the world and I’m going to give it all for Celtic.
“First of all, I would like to become a champion of Celtic. After that, I want to enjoy all the years that I have at the club.
“I think the Celtic fans are going to see a player who is aggressive, that has a lot of personality, who always gives his best for the team and will defend the Celtic players.
“I spoke to the manager and he made me feel very comfortable. I am very grateful to him and the club. I’m going to learn a lot and grow as a player.”