Daniel Church made an emotional farewell to Celtic last night- after 13 years at the club!
The 20-year-old had barely started primary school when he started training with Celtic but like others in the 2000 age group his development has stalled due to the lack of any pathway beyond u-18 level football.
Despite having a contract until May 2021 he has come to an agreement and can now move on as a free agent.
Alongside Robbie Deas and Stephen Welsh, Church was a regular in the Scotland youth teams up until u-19 level. Deas joined Inverness Caley Thistle last month with another from that batch, Jack Aitchison, in negotiations to move to Barnsley.
Playing at left-back Church showed as much potential as Kieran Tierney as he came through the ranks, regularly playing a year or two above his age group including the 2015 Glasgow Cup Final (for u-17’s) win over the Ibrox starlets at Hampden.
Speaking to Video Celts after that match Celtic coach Tommy McIntyre said:
I’m mostly interested in the up-coming players and tonight we had two u-15 players out there in Jack Aitchison (age 15) and Daniel Church (age 14). I don’t like singling players out but in this occasion it’s justified.
Experienced players helped them out, Calvin Miller, Mark Hill and Regan Hendry will move on but it’s about experience for Daniel and Jack.
Both of them were at school and we picked them up after their classes for the pre-match preparations. They spent a full day in a classroom and then they come and play in a final at the National Stadium- how good is that?
They’ve not yet sat their standard grades and they are playing in a big match like this. Everything is about development and we can see that throughout the squad.
Thank you @CelticFC for the last 13 years. Have so many amazing memories and met a lot of great people along the way. Been a dream come true growing up playing for my boyhood club, looking forward to the next chapter now ? pic.twitter.com/4uYX1to2k8
— Daniel Church (@danchurch03) September 10, 2020
The lack of a Reserve League has brought the development of a generation to a halt.
Last August he did move to East Fife on loan but quickly found a totally different brand of football to the style that he was brought up playing. That season long loan was cut short at the end of December.
At Celtic a full-back is expected to push on up in support of his forwards, in League One as soon as you reach the half-way line you are expected to launch the ball towards a striker.
The current climate isn’t the best for finding a job in football but with his international pedigree and a decade at Celtic Church should be able to get fixed up and finally get some regular senior football.
Celtic team at 2015 Glasgow Cup Final: Doohan; Ralston, Kerr, Higgins, Church; Miller, McKenna, Hill, Archibald (Murray 89); Hendry, Currie (Aitchison 63)
SUBS: Aidan McAdams, Lewis Bell, Aidan Quinn, Michael Johnstone, Shaun Bowers