Scott Brown believes there is only one other teenager to have sparked his senior career to life at Celtic and so completely captivated the club as instantly as Jeremie Frimpong.
The 19-year-old Dutchman will make only his 11th first-team appearance when the Scottish champions face Hearts at Tynecastle tonight.
Yet already the Celtic captain is in no doubt that, despite costing only £350,000 in a summer deal struck with Manchester City that could rise to £1 million, the full-back is on the same trajectory as a certain other full-back the club sold in August for the small matter of £25m.
The similarities Brown sees between right-sided Frimpong and the left-sided Kieran Tierney, whose accomplishment, diligence and self-effacement proved such an irresistible mix, make the outlay on Celtic’s newest headline act a show-stealer.
“He is [incredible value for money]. There’s no other way you can put it,” said the 34-year-old. “I don’t think there’s been anyone apart from him and Kieran who’ve broken into the team at that age and done that well in such a short time.
“He’ll be worth serious money in a few years. The main aim for us is to keep improving him and making sure he understands what it’s like playing in a three or a four, whether he’s playing full-back or wing-back.
“He’s brilliant because he’s willing to learn and adapt as well. Kieran is the template for everyone that’s come through. His attitude and love for the club as well. He came through and worked hard every single day.”
Like Tierney, all who have encountered Frimpong, both behind the scenes and front of house, have been won over by his play, personality, and pace.
Brown was left slack-jawed by the under-20 international’s performance in Sunday’s victory over Hibernian that brought him a second goal in Celtic colours, claimed when deployed as a wing-back to counter the speedster Martin Boyle.
“Every game he’s played he’s been man of the match. You look around the park and just think he’s going to get man of the match no matter what,” said Brown. “He’s got the same attitude week in week out. He’s willing to work hard, do the yards and is up and down the field for 90 minutes.
“Martin Boyle is the fastest winger we’ve played against in the league but the wee man runs even quicker. Against him, and Ryan Kent the other week, he has shown how good and powerful he is going forward, but also that he can defend and is very smart for a young lad.
“He’s composed on the ball and in situations where you think he is going to lose it, he manages to pull out and gets his body in there to keep it. He goes to press people and doesn’t dive in like someone young and naive. He jockeys them and forces them down the line because he believes in his own pace and ability. He’s showing it in stats, in games. He has a change of direction, sharpness and dribbling as well. When people get one on one, they just keep deepening and deepening. No one wants to put a foot in because, if he gets by you, you aren’t catching him. He took his goal against Hibs really well, too.
“He’s back there defending but, as the ball goes up, he’s got that pace to explode in there. He reads the game well too.”
It is a measure of how everything seems to be coming up roses for Frimpong that, even when he appeared to wilt, he ended up being showered in petals. His red card in the final of the Betfred Cup against Rangers last week gave way to the player being lauded for the charm exhibited in an entirely unselfconscious post-match interview. His “oh my days” line, offered to express how much he was left fretting as he left his team-mates a man down as they sought to hold on against their rivals, has merely added to his booming appeal.
“It’s those small little things that show he’s very humble and the lads appreciate that more than anything,” Brown said.
“You can see right away he is genuine. He’s a lovely, lovely man. And he won’t change. I think he’s been brought up properly. His mum and dad have done a great job with him. He’s just passed his driving test at the 27th attempt… or was it the fourth?
“The lads have been giving him a wee bit of grief for that. But he takes everything in his stride. He’s happy as Larry.
“He comes in and puts a smile on all the lads’ faces. That’s what you want to do – especially with being a young kid. For the first couple of weeks, he didn’t really speak with anybody. It was other people who were speaking to him. It’s not easy coming in here – especially from Man City.
“We thought a wee laddie coming in from Man City could have a big- time attitude but he’s come in and been unbelievable.”