Rocco Vata – Celtic’s Starlet by Jake McGhee
Who is Rocco Vata?
Rudi Vata is a name synonymous with the majority of Celtic fans, the Albanian cult hero enjoyed a 3 year spell at the Hoops through the mid-90s, becoming a reputable and respected centre half in the SPFL. Since Rudi’s tenure at the Hoops the baton has been passed down to son Rocco. A very different player to his father Rocco is a technical attacking midfielder who at only 16 years old ha been making waves in the Scottish youth scene and in an Ireland shirt as he begins to gain traction in the world of football.
As previously noted Rocco operates in an advanced role within the midfield primarily, he has also featured out wide more often recently on the right flank, making good use of his cannon of a right foot. Being the Celtic B teams 2nd highest goal scorer so far this season with a total of 6 goals alongside 2 assists he’s picked up along the way it’s clear to see that Rocco is more than able to hold his own against often grown men and display an aptitude and level of skill beyond his years. With 8 G/A in 15 starts so far this season, Rocco is certainly performing brilliantly and looks ready to make the step up to the senior squad at the tender age of 16.
On the ball it is clear to see that Rocco is an incredibly talented and naturally gifted footballer, possessing excellent close control and skill on the ball he has produced a number of tricks and skills to bypass his defender, often excelling in a cheeky bit of flair as seen here in this clip against Edinburgh University:
Aside from his on the ball ability, Rocco is a very intelligent player who reads the game well as displayed through his runs off the ball into space, he is always available as an option to teammates and makes smart runs to draw defenders away from teammates, creating space for them.
Furthermore, off the ball he shows a great willingness to press and hurry defenders, a fantastic attribute to have as he often earns a throw in or turnover for his team via a misplaced pass. Another unmistakable aspect of his game is his shooting. Rocco has a keen eye for goal and has shown his ice cold finishing from all over the pitch, he definitely has a long range strike in his locker as he’s shown on a few occasions. Additionally, he clearly stays level-headed and calm in front of goal as he can finish from tight angles too and isn’t phased by 1-on-1 situations.
His dribbling and flair is reminiscent of James Rodriguez and Raheem Sterling, with his shooting being a key aspect of his game he could also be compared to a player such as Christian Eriksen in his prime.
Rocco has clearly developed rapidly or else he wouldn’t have his spot on the B team at such a young age, this rapid development highlights that he has the correct mindset for football, if his hard-work and grafting keeps up then the sky is the limit for Rocco. A first team call up looks imminent with Celtic’s squad being ridden by injuries and other players looking a bit burnt-out, Rocco would slot nicely into Ange’s system, likely relishing in the high-intensity attacking football the Australian has implemented. In terms of his international career, Rocco is eligible to represent either Ireland or Albania like his father, Rudi. He seems to be loving his football with Ireland and has worked well with fellow Irish-Albanian Kevin Zefi, knowing this it looks likely that Rocco will continue his international career with the Irish squad and doesn’t seem too far away from a call-up to the senior squad.