THAT Oliver Burke wore a full Celtic kit as a youngster despite beginning his football journey at a team called Rangers should help to endear him to his new supporters.

This is no badge-kissing story. Burke can’t pretend he grew up knowing the names of the Lisbon Lions. He wasn’t even a fan. He just really enjoyed wearing green and white hoops when he had a kickabout with his mates.

He can do it for real now.

Ironically, when his football talent was first spotted when he was eight, Burke was with his local team, Melton Mowbray Rangers, and they only had him for a season before Nottingham Forest made sure this fast and exciting winger was joining them.

An awful lot has happened since to Burke who spoke with honesty yesterday in the foyer of Celtic’s plush hotel in Dubai about the past few years from when he was the most talked about teenager in British football to someone many would have lost track with.

The RB Leipzig £13m move made him a household name, at least for a while, but this game has a habit of bringing even the best back down to earth with a bump. Burke has more bruises than most 21-year-olds.

Still, he was all smiles after his first training session with Celtic and gave off the impression of someone who believes he’s been given an ideal opportunity to make his mark again.

A beaming Burke said: “I am really excited to be a Celtic player. I had the kit when I was young, the full kit as well (points to imaginary badge), and this has always been the club I’ve thought about.

“I wasn’t a supporter. I just loved the kit. It was great. Someone on the Scottish side of the family got me one and I never took it off. I would be down the country park playing in a Celtic strip in England. Everyone was saying: ‘What is that?’ But I loved it.

“I would be kicking a ball with my friends and they did ask why I was wearing the Celtic kit. I just loved it. It’s brilliant.

“I have never been to Celtic Park. That’s what I’m really excited to do. I have heard the fans are amazing so I’m dying to see that. I literally came to Dubai from Birmingham because I wanted to crack, get on and get to know the team.

“I wasn’t bothered with getting to know the facilities. Everything will be fine. As long as there is a football pitch and somewhere I can get changed…I’ll be happy.”

It’s been a while since the Scotland international has been happy.

Burke is in many ways still a kid but not so young that he can afford another half season of not playing, which has been the case at West Bromwich Albion.

He admitted: “I’m at a stage where I really need to kick on and play as many games as I can. At the same time I need to be learning and I feel I’m under the right manager now to learn every day and get the best out of me. I believe Brendan can do that.

“I haven’t been injured at all. It’s just one of those things which does happen in football. Unfortunately, I haven’t been selected – I don’t know why.

“All I want to do is play. I love the game. I want to show everyone what I can do. Unfortunately it hasn’t gone my way for the past few years. Hopefully, I am now on a stage where I can perform. I’ll give 100 per cent for this football club.

“I’ll train hard and I’m hoping that helps with my development. All I have been waiting for is the opportunity to play and be given a chance.

“I’ve done a lot of moving, a lot of shifting around, and what I want now is to settle, enjoy this loan period and see where it gets me. I got a lot of attention. Everything happened so quickly. Sometimes it was hard to adapt and also moving clubs can be difficult. You can start to feel comfortable and then you’re on the move again.

“I had to start from scratch, again, at another new club. But I guess I’m used to that now. Still being young is a bonus. I just want to start to enjoy my football again.

“To be honest, I just want to see where this loan at Celtic goes. I’ll try to play in as many games as I can, help the team in any way I can and see where it gets me.”

If Burke can get back to where he was then Celtic have themselves a player. He is fast, skilful and creative. Not a bad combination for a winger.

Perhaps he should have stayed at Forest instead of joining RB Leipzig for a ridiculous fee when he was only 18. Hey, what would you do?

Burke said: “I don’t regret the move if I’m honest. It was an amazing feeling. It was a big shock at the time just how well the team did. I was still a part of it, as such, but not as big a part as I would have liked.

“For the amount of money I went for, everyone expected me to play, they expected the world from me, but at times that’s not how it goes.

“The team were doing so well, playing great football, which was unexpected. However, I can’t say I regret the move. I learned a lot out there. I actually really enjoyed it.

“Look, football has its highs and lows. You have to keep going, working, and pushing yourself because there is always going to be light at the end of the tunnel. You can’t give up.

“I didn’t really think about the price tag. I didn’t know anything about it until it was out in the papers. I didn’t speak to me agent about the fee. We focussed on the best place for me to go at that stage of my career.”

We shall soon find out whether Celtic Park is the place for him to be in 2019.