Celtic’s Jeremie Frimpong driven to succeed after passing driving test
Jeremie Frimpong finally, much to the disappointment of those Celtic team mates who had been ribbing him about not having his own wheels, passed his driving test at his fourth attempt recently.
Yet, having to rely on public transport to take him to and from training and matches over the years hasn’t been an entirely bad thing for the Dutch right back. In fact, it has fuelled his desire to make it as a professional footballer.
The 19-year-old, a £350,000 signing from Manchester City in the summer who was expected, due to his youth, to take time to force his way into the Celtic first team, has been a revelation this season.
He has established himself as a regular starter for Neil Lennon’s side and won many admirers among the Parkhead support with his ability going forward. He has featured in big games, including the Betfred Cup final win over Rangers but it has been a long road to the exalted position he now finds himself in.
Amsterdam-born Frimpong, who moved to England when he was nine, used to take three buses from his home in Openshaw to evening sessions with City in Clayton when he was a youngster.
Speaking at Celtic’s winter training camp in Dubai, he said: “That was tough for me and my family as well.
“There was one time when we finished training at Platt Lane sports complex in Manchester. All the guys got in the cars of their parents to go home, nice and warm and dry. I was just wearing my Man City jumper and it was pouring with rain. We were at the bus stop and there were no covers.
“All I could see were friends in their cars going past.
“You use that as an incentive. It’s been hard, hard work. You could think the hard work started when I played my first match, but the hard work really started when I was a kid. You always have to work hard no matter where you are. But I always believed in myself, believed that if I was patient it would come to me. I’ve never thought of giving up. I’ve always thought I just want to be at the top and play football. I am just going to keep going.”
The bus journeys are now a thing of the past. “Thankfully I’m driving now, so those days have gone,” said Frimpong. “I kept failing before. I did a few tests in Manchester and I passed at the fourth time of asking in Glasgow. It’s all good. The driving is good. Since then I’ve dropped a couple of players off in town and they seem very impressed.”
Scottish football has certainly taken to the diminutive defender since he made his debut in senior football in a Betfred Cup game against Partick Thistle back in September. His interview after the final last month, particularly his “oh my days” expression, endeared him to many and he is reminded of it as he goes about his daily business.
“People shout it at me a lot!” he said. “For me it’s just like a normal thing to say. I’ve always said it. Now I hear it from others and it’s funny. I don’t find it weird. It’s good, I’m happy with people asking questions and things like that.
“I used to walk around Manchester and no-one would stop. Now people stop and it makes me feel happy. I’m just a happy guy in general. I like to put smiles on people’s faces.”
The 2-1 defeat that Lennon’s side suffered at home at the hands of Steven Gerrard’s team in the final Ladbrokes Premiership match before the winter shutdown has been the first disappointment of Frimpong’s career to date. It is the only one of the 14 games he has been involved in that Celtic didn’t win.
Still, for someone so inexperienced, he has handled the setback with admirable maturity, including taking himself off social media and away from the fallout that invariably follows Old Firm games.
“Obviously we were upset, but in football you win some, you lose some,” he said. “There is nothing we can do about that now, so we have just got to look forward and keep going. I try to block the negative things out. I just like to think and focus on the next game.
“What’s the point in looking back if you can’t do anything about it? You can’t change the scoreline.”