Jonathan Afolabi has revealed he joined Dundee on the back of ringing endorsements about the club from two former Dens stars, Leigh Griffiths and Darren O’Dea.
The 20-year-old Celtic striker signed a season-long loan deal with the Dark Blues on Tuesday and, just a couple of hours later, made his debut in a home friendly with Peterhead.
James McPake’s men ran out comfortable 4-0 winners with Afolabi making an immediate impact, scoring the third goal on the night with a sweetly-struck, 25-yard shot.
It was a dream start for the Irish Under-21 international who is looking to kick on this season at a club that O’Dea – who is now Under-18s manager at Parkhead – and Hoops striker Griffiths believe is the perfect place to continue his football education.
— Dundee Football Club (@DundeeFC) September 29, 2020
Afolabi said: “The move to Dundee came out of the blue but I got a bit of a chat about the club from Darren O’Dea.
“He just let me know that he was here for a while and it is a great place. He put in a little word for me as well.
“I also got a chance to talk with Leigh as we ended up training together and he said Dundee was a brilliant club to go to, to really kick on with my career.
“So it is only positive when it is someone like Leigh saying things like that.
“I hope to get as many goals as possible to help the team and myself.
“First and foremost, I am determined to give everything I can to Dundee this season.
“Hopefully I can reap the rewards when I go back to Celtic next season.”
There is always fierce competition for places at Parkhead, especially up front with Scotland star Griffiths, Albian Ajeti, Patryk Klimala and Odsonne Edouard all vying for places.
Afolabi admits the latter in particular is someone he can use as inspiration in his own career.
He said: “Being able to watch them train is great. Edouard is only a couple of years older than me so it is good to see the quality he has along with the other strikers.
“It is always something to be able to work towards for the long term – it is good for my aspirations.”
Afolabi is now getting used to his new team-mates at Dens but he revealed that he had encountered one of them before when he was a kid at former club Southampton, Charlie Adam.
Afolabi said: “I remember playing against him when I was with Southampton when I was 17 or 18.
“He was playing for Stoke’s Under-23s. I had to head a couple of his corners away!
“It is nice to be here playing in the same team as him instead of against him.”
Afolabi may just be in the door at Dens but he is already fully aware of the No.1 target at the club this season – promotion to the Premiership.
He added: “There is no getting away from that.
“They have already set out nice and early what they want to accomplish this season.
“It is good to be part of something like this where there are such high standards in the team.
“I am sure we will do very well this season.”
However, the front man knows just how taxing a challenge the Championship can be after having a spell on loan last season at Dunfermline that was cut short when the campaign ended early because of the coronavirus crisis.
Afolabi said: “I think Dundee must have seen what I was like last season when I played a few games with Dunfermline. So it was good that they were interested.
“It was really frustrating the way it ended at Dunfermline but nobody expected the virus to pick up the way it did.
“I was building a bit of momentum playing professional football and scoring goals but what can you do?
“The Championship is very tough. The first few games for Dunfermline I had to get used to the standard and what it was about because it is different to what you get in reserve football where you have more time.
“But it is good to be under pressure. I like a challenge and I am looking forward to really getting going with Dundee.”