CELTIC supporters will be familiar with the tale of a precocious Norwegian defender leaving his homeland at a tender age to pursue his footballing dreams in Glasgow, but they might not be too familiar with the latest player to tread that path.

Young Leo Hjelde has followed in the footsteps of compatriot Kristoffer Ajer in coming to Celtic with an eye to eventually breaking into the first-team and making his name in Scotland, and he has done so at an even earlier stage than Ajer did back in 2016.

Hjelde is just 16, but he has revealed how Ajer, fellow Norwegian Mohamed Elyounoussi and his flatmates from the reserve team are helping him to settle into life with the Scottish champions since his summer move, an opportunity the former Rosenborg youngster felt he just had to grasp with both hands.

“I think I needed it and it’s the best thing for my career,” Hjelde told the Celtic View. “I live with some of the other boys in the reserve team and it’s quite nice. It’s a good squad to be part of and the atmosphere is really good.

“My family will be coming over quite a lot, so I will see them a lot anyway and I can just concentrate on playing football.

“I was 14 when I joined Rosenborg and played Under-16s and Under-18s with them. It was really good for my development being there and they’ve helped make me the player I am today. I hope I can continue that and Celtic is the perfect place for me to do that.

“I’ve spoken to Kristoffer and Mohamed. It’s been nice having them around because I can speak Norwegian to them and ask advice about things.”

The next stage for Hjelde is catching manager Neil Lennon’s eye in training with a view to getting himself involved in the first-team picture, and he has already impressed enough to have joined in with the senior players on occasion at Lennoxtown.

As eager as Hjelde is though, he is also realistic, and knows that he may face a long wait to break into an area of the side that is currently occupied by the partnership of Ajer and £7m marquee summer signing Christopher Jullien.

He is prepared though to bide his time, and work hard in the background to ensure that if and when he is called upon, he will be ready to make the step up to the bigtime.

“I’ve trained a bit with the first-team squad,” he said. “The first time was a couple of weeks ago and it was very nice.

“I got a text the day before saying I needed to be in for training with the first team. That was cool. They were all friendly, but I don’t think they knew who I was at first. I expected that, though, so that’s alright.

“I’m still 16 so I know I will probably have to be patient and wait for my opportunities. There’s a lot to learn from the players here, though, so I will be busy.

“I’m not stressing about how quickly this happens but, obviously, I would like to train with the first team as much as I can. My immediate focus is to train well, avoid injury and play as much as I can.

“I need to be stronger. The physicality of the training with the first-team showed me how strong you need to be if you want to compete at the top.

“I know I have a long journey ahead of me but I’m patient and I believe if I work hard I can achieve that.”