Apr 25 2012 by Colin Paterson, Airdrie & Coatbridge
CHAIRMAN Jim Ballantyne says Celtic sensation Tony Watt is the poster Bhoy for Airdrie’s youth pathway scheme.
The 18-year-old forward came off the bench for his Hoops debut at Motherwell on Sunday and scored twice in the space of three minutes.
Coatbridge kid Watt moved to Celtic in a deal worth in the region of £100,000 in January last year after less than half a season in the Diamonds’ first-team.
And Airdrie supremo Ballantyne believes his meteoric rise to stardom will convince youngsters to begin their football careers at New Broomfield.
He told Advertiser Sport: “Everyone at the club is absolutely delighted for Tony.
“We saw he had ability and his story is the best advertisement for the youth programme we have at the club.
“We see this as a vindication of going down the route of developing our own players almost two years ago.
“Hopefully people will see that you can go on to bigger and better things by coming here and working hard.
“Celtic are happy, Tony Watt is happy and we’re happy with how things have turned out.
“It’s a win-win-win situation – and you don’t get many of them in football.”
Watt’s first-team involvement is expected to trigger future cash benefits for the Diamonds.
Ballantyne refused to comment on the financial side of the deal for confidentiality reasons but revealed that he was “grinning from ear to ear”.
Watt was the second player Jimmy Boyle signed to a professional contract when he took over as Airdrie boss in June 2010.
“I’m thrilled for Tony,” Boyle said. “I spoke to him after the game and he was buzzing after scoring two goals.
“He’s worked really hard for this and Neil Lennon and the people at Celtic really believe in him.
“Tony was the second player I signed to a pro form once I took became the manager.
“He was only 16 but I knew he had a real chance. We all believed in him here.
“Hopefully some of the young boys we’ve got here will see how well Tony’s done and want to get there.”
Boyle says Watt is in great shape and believes he can get even better.
The manager added: “Since he’s gone to Celtic, the full-time training has taken his physique and fitness to another level. He just looks so strong.
“He comes up to our place all the time and stays in touch. He’s taking care of himself and living right.
“It’s only one game but we know he has got ability. There are good people around him and he will go from strength to strength.”