THERE is a small corner of Argentina that is now forever Celtic. The tiny village of Correa’s new favourite son has seen to that.

Alexandro Bernabei was officially, finally, paraded as a Celtic player yesterday, and the excitement that was evident in his manner at being in such grand football surroundings was perhaps a result of that modest upbringing in the Santa Fe region of his homeland.

Modest might actually be overselling it. Bernabei has spoken before of the literal hunger he faced as a child, being forced to hunt pigeons and iguanas just to eat, and how that has translated into a hunger to succeed in Europe not only for himself, but for his family and everyone else back home.

So, as he surveyed his new home of Celtic Park yesterday, there was at times wide-eyed wonder, and at others, a steely look of determination as he vowed to remember where he had come from, who had got him to this point in his life, and to repay that support by representing those people proudly in a Celtic jersey.

His days of iguana-hunting may firmly be over following his £3.75m move to Glasgow, but his desire to succeed borne from those days is surely one of the assets that has attracted Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou to the 21-year-old left-back.

“I grew up in a small village of 6,000 people in the province of Santa Fe,” Bernabei said. “The name of the town was Correa.

“There wasn’t a lot of opportunity in the village. Especially because we didn’t leave the village. But then I moved to Lanus and that’s when I had my opportunity to play football.

“Obviously [I want to make the village proud]. Especially if a guy like me comes from such a small village. It really makes the people proud when one of us has success.

“Especially my family. What I do makes them proud and that’s important to me.

“My grandfather used to take me to football from three years old because I was very energetic. I would not sleep well at night.

“But all 6000 people in the village are now Celtic fans.”

Bernabei is the first Argentinian to represent Celtic, though he is hoping not to be the last.

“For me, being the first Argentinian player at Celtic means I would like to open the door for a lot more Argentinian players to come to the club,” he said.

“My family and my friends will all know about Celtic, they have all started following me [on social media] with this news!”

He is far from the first Argentinian player to come to European football with a dream though, but he was quick to distance himself from any notions that he may be the next world superstar to come out of his nation, and certainly not on the level of the likes of Diego Maradona or Lionel Messi. At least for now.

His former club Lanus posted a photo of Bernabei meeting Maradona on their social media yesterday as they marked the youngster’s departure to Scotland, a moment he recalls as a huge inspiration.

“First of all, he is a world champion and I had a chance to meet him when there was a friendly between Lanus and Gimnasia,” he said.

“For me it was just really, really meaningful to be able to meet him. For my career and also for my life, for all Argentinians.

“I wouldn’t make that comparison [to players like that], I don’t think I’m at the stature of the best like Messi and Maradona.

“However, I would really like to follow in their footsteps in terms of playing in Europe for as long as I can.”

Celtic fans may have high expectations, but even they didn’t think their new left-back was going to be the next Messi. Who would be the reference point for them then when it comes to his attributes and style of play, if not quite of the same level just yet?

“I never really had a hero growing up, but then when I started watching football, I really wanted to be like Marcelo, of Real Madrid,” he said.

“Of course, I would like to join the attack, but also be defensive because that is also needed.”

He will of course be competing in the same competition as Real Madrid next season, with Celtic already secure in the group stages of the Champions League.

There may even be a meeting against Messi’s Paris Saint Germain, though Bernabei is more excited about sampling the Champions League nights with which Celtic Park has become synonymous than coming up against his illustrious compatriot.

“First of all, Champions League is a very huge competition,” he said. “So whether it’s PSG or another club, for me it’s just unbelievable coming from a small town in Correa in Argentina. It’s just a dream come true.

“From what I’ve seen and what I’ve heard, there’s about 60,000 people in the stadium [on those nights].

“I can’t wait to feel that adrenaline and to feel that atmosphere and what it’s like to play in front of those fans.”