Celtic defender Jeremie Frimpong has recalled being subjected to sickening racist abuse by Italian supporters when he was playing under-11 football.
With the issue of racism in football sadly returning to the fore in recent weeks, former Manchester City teenager Frimpong has expressed the hope it does not blight Thursday night’s Europa League match between Celtic and Lazio in Glasgow.
The game will be overseen by Croatian referee Ivan Bebek, the official who assisted England’s players in following Uefa protocol by stopping the action twice last week when they were racially abused during a Euro 2020 qualifier against Bulgaria in Sofia.
The conduct of Lazio supporters will be under close scrutiny at Celtic Park after the Rome club were fined over £17,000 for racist chants during their previous Europa League fixture at home to Rennes three weeks ago.
Lazio have also been ordered to partially close the Olympic Stadium in Rome for the return match with Celtic in the Italian capital on 7 November.
“When I was at Manchester City, I went to a tournament in Italy and their fans were making monkey chants,” said Dutch youth international Frimpong.
“It must have been with the under-11s. It wasn’t just me, my team-mates were getting it as well. I can’t remember exactly in Italy where it was, but I think it was Rome.
“I tried not to let it bother me, I still played on. It’s a game of football, what has the colour of my skin got to do with it? I am just kicking a ball. It makes you so angry.
“I wouldn’t like to see the game stopped because of it on Thursday. But if it did happen, you saw it in the Bulgaria-England match. It just killed the mood. Let’s just play the game, none of this.
“Obviously racism used to be a lot worse back in the day in football and I think it is getting better. There is always going to be racism, always. But it has been getting better.
“It’s been coming back a little bit recently but, generally, I think it has been improving.”