Cameron Carter-Vickers was just another starry-eyed football hopeful as he turned out in the green and white hoops of Catholic United aged just six back in 2004.

Some two decades later, the USA international star-spangled banner and career trajectory remain on an upward curve.

The 25-year-old is still in the Hoops, of course, but this time the kit belongs to the famous Glasgow Celtic.

The two clubs will always be intrinsically linked after Celtic answered an SOS some fifty-five years ago and donated a box of strips to help kit out the non-league club in Essex as they reached their local cup final.

The replica Lisbon Lions kit helped Catholic United capture the 1968 Walton Cup and the 2-1 victory over Haden FC is still much lauded and celebrated by the club.

READ MORE: Cameron Carter-Vickers: Hero showing puts him in Celtic great debate

Amazingly it was written into the amateur side's constitution that the colours would proudly remain green and white hoops in homage to the Parkhead giants.

Catholic United have since paid off any debt and then some as graduate Carter-Vickers has risen from schoolboy prodigy to Champions League defender.

Tony Haggerty went back to where it all began for the American to chart the rise and rise of Carter-Vickers through the eyes of four of his former coaches.

"This sort of thing just doesn't happen..."

Cameron Carter-Vickers' first-ever football coach Rudi Luft coached Catholic United U6/7s from the early 1990s right through to 2010. He was Carter-Vickers' first ever youth coach. Luft is still pinching himself at the fact that boy who possessed genuine raw talent has made it all the way to the top levels of the game after Carter-Vickers convinced him that he was a centre-half to trade all along. 

"This sort of thing just doesn't happen in youth football where a player actually makes it. We are so proud of what Cameron has achieved. To think that someone like me has helped him in his career is mind-blowing. 

"Catholic United is divided into minors and seniors' teams. So, Cameron started out with the minor teams. I ran the minor sides from the early 1990s to 2010. I'm a UEFA 'B' coach and at our peak, we had 26 teams. When you think of all the kids, we coached only two or three made it into professional football and Cameron was one of them. This just doesn't happen. I am so delighted for him, and his dreams are our dreams now.

"I had a close connection with a local primary school and we were running a football school for under-6's and I would then take them and coach them into playing a sort of structured game of football. When it came to under-7s Cameron would have been registered to play a non-competitive football. His first showing was an annual tournament we hosted in 2004 with 5,000 visitors over the weekend. 

"Cameron absolutely loved it and ticked boxes right away. People say at that age you should just let children play and find their own feet. He just always migrated to the centre-back position. That was incredible for a seven-year-old as he knew exactly what his natural position on a football park was. He was very intelligent, and it was difficult for other kids to pass him.

"He was a big talent back then and I have enjoyed seeing him grow and develop. In Cameron's case when he went on to the senior level, he was getting noticed by lots of other clubs almost straight away. 

READ MORE: Why Cameron Carter-Vickers has earned Celtic invincibility reputation

"I always played him as a centre-back as that is where he wanted to play. He was always huge even as a kid. His mum was a small lady. Yet he was very big and quick on the field. He possessed tremendous ability. His physique was immense. He was athletic, powerful and he was just a strong boy from the get-go. He was a specimen and he had it all and you can tell that some players just have that 'x-factor' that you hope can take them all the way. Cameron was always a nice boy, and he always sought the right guidance in his life and career. He is one of those players who has certainly used his talents to take his career to the levels that he has.

"His career has come full circle as he started out his playing in the Hoops jersey for Catholic United and he is back playing in the Hoops of the famous Glasgow Celtic. I still can't get my head around that and it gives me goosebumps when I think about it. This sort of stuff just doesn't happen. I am so proud of him and it just makes my heart swell with pride to see him doing so well for Celtic."

Celtic Way:

"Cameron Carter-Vickers is the son I never had..."

Martin Pigrome was Carter-Vickers' senior coach with Catholic United at under 10s and 11s level. He shaped the budding star's football destiny after Luft had passed him on from the club's minors set-up into Tigrome's seniors. Under Pigrome's tutelage, both West Ham United and Tottenham eyed the player and it was Spurs who won the race for his signature when he joined the North London outfit in 2009.

"I love Carter-Vickers story. I was so excited to see him sign for Celtic. I would have loved to have seen him play in the Premier League with Tottenham, but he is ripping it up in Scotland. Celtic has progressed his career to the highest level, and he has Champions League football and World Cup appearances on his CV now. This is a guy that played for Catholic United, it's utterly astonishing.

"Cameron was always bigger and stronger than the rest and football-wise there were a few better players in the team. However, with his speed and power, he soon made up for it as the technical side of his game developed at a rate of knots and once, he turned nine years of age he was different class to the rest, he honestly was.

"I loved seeing him sign for Tottenham and they loved him there too when he left us, I stayed in touch with him for a long time. The day Spurs turned up and said they wanted him; I was so emotional. It was such a happy day for Cameron and for the club and for the coaches. You have no idea what that meant to us. I'd like to think that Rudi, Cameron's mum and I gave him the belief to make it in football.

"Every football manager wants to see one of their players get an opportunity to fulfil their potential at the professional level. You give them the platform and the chance, and it is up to the player to take it. I tear up every time I see Cameron on a playing field now. My wife is sick and tired of me pointing him out to her every time he is on the TV.

READ MORE: Celtic midfielder Aaron Mooy's journey to the top

"There were some wonderful teams that Catholic United played against back in Cameron's senior days and a lot of the players were signed with Arsenal but none of them have achieved what Cameron has in the game. He has worked so hard to get to where he is. Everybody can offer him guidance and advice, but he is the only person in the world that can make it happen and I am just so happy for him.

"Cameron was the son I never had. Everybody in the team that Cameron played for were my boys. I grew so attached to that group of players, but Cameron just excelled. He deserves every success that comes his way. He was always a happy, jolly, go-lucky sort of character and player.

"Ironically when the Tottenham thing happened, I thought to myself I need to structure this team without Cameron in it. I pushed him up front when I realised, he was leaving to sign for Tottenham. I had to prepare for my top centre-back leaving the club. At those times I told him to go up front. He was terrific as a centre-forward. Unsurprisingly he scored lots of goals!

"He was cheeky too because when he would get time off from Spurs he would come down and see us at Catholic United and he would demand to play! He wasn't meant to as he was a professional but he wanted to. I'd have to say to him 'I am not playing you on the pitch, I am playing you in goal!' and he would reply 'You can't play me in goals!' 

"I played my goalkeeper at centre-back and Cameron in goal. He was a smashing goalkeeper as well. He was just one of these all-rounders who was great at every sport and every position he played on a football pitch.

"He would always pester me that he wanted to go up for corners and I would shout at him: "Stay where you are, get back in that goal!" Then one game he had the ball at his feet went for a run and beat everybody in the opposition team and slotted it home. I thought: "You little shit!" I couldn't move for laughing to be fair. 

"It was an absolute pleasure coaching this kid, it really was. I remember last season when Cameron scored with that textbook finish at Ibrox against Rangers when Celtic won 2-1 and I just let out a huge scream. It showed me that he had learned from his coaches at Catholic United. Head down, get your foot over the ball and drill it low and hard and get it target. That's what he did that day. I couldn't have been happier for him. It was a goal that all but sealed the title for Celtic last season.

Celtic Way:

"He has got where he is by working so hard and being looked after by Tottenham. He was great during every loan spell that he had in the Championship. He has found a spiritual home at Celtic, and it is just a joy to see him look so happy and being so successful.

"I saw him jumping around with his sticks during the title celebrations at Celtic when they beat Hearts last Sunday and I was so proud of him. To see him become something and make something of his career is truly inspiring and uplifting. I always knew that he had it in him to push himself to go and do it and that is not an easy task.

"Funnily enough a lot of the local managers that we played against back then will come up to me and say fair play Cameron Carter-Vickers did well. That makes me want to cry. He had his head screwed on and had an old head on young shoulders and he didn't go off too early and I am so proud of that. It's just the best feeling ever. These are the same guys who had the young lads at Arsenal and big things was expected of them, but it was Cameron who made the grade in the end-up.

"Cameron's success is all of our success at Catholic United. He is the son, brother or friend we never had, and he always will be."

"The consummate pro who was never a pain in the arse to me but he'll go a long way to find a bigger club than Celtic!"

Mick McCarthy was Ipswich boss during Carter-Vickers' highly successful loan spell in the second half of season 2017/18. He made 17 appearances for the Tractor Boyd under the former Celtic and Republic of Ireland defender. McCarthy was surprised by Carter-Vickers lack of height for a centre-back but admits that it has never held him back in his career so far.

"We took Cameron on loan from Spurs, and he was the consummate pro and he did very well for us. He was a great lad and we loved everything about him. He surprised me when he walked in the door as I thought he was much taller when I signed him. He had a remarkable header and what a leap he had from a standing start. He was terrific. He was one of those defenders who did exactly what it said on the tin. He was quick, liked a tackle and was a manager's defender - that's why I liked him so much. 

"He was excellent and I am not surprised that he has gone on to play for the USA in the World Cup. He was a good footballer, and he looks like he had got better still for Celtic. 

"I know how difficult it is to play for a club like Celtic, but he has adapted to it with no problems. He has been part of a wonderful and successful Celtic team which is a collective under Ange Postecoglou. If he is not giving goals away, then it is only natural that he has become a big favourite up there.

"They love their heroes at Celtic and it is a nice place to be if they like you. He is a no-nonsense defender, he gets close to people, he follows them, he reads the game ever so well and he is quick and always switched on. Nobody can turn him, he's robust and nobody will bully him. He can use the ball terrifically as well as he's an excellent passer.

"I am not so sure about the loan deals, and it might look like nobody took a chance on him but Spurs might not have wanted any clubs to take a chance on him then Celtic have come along and have struck it lucky. Spurs could do with him now funnily enough.

"I am delighted for him. Loan players can be a pain in the arse when they come from so-called bigger clubs, but he wasn't. He had no ego; he was just a good footballer, and I don't remember having one ounce of bother with Cameron unlike others. If he had been a pain in the arse, I would remember him more for that as some loan players stick out for all the wrong reasons. He stuck out for all the right reasons, and he was everything I and Ipswich wanted him to be. Loan players just need managers and clubs to trust them as they don't always do it. Celtic clearly had every faith in him and I could vouch for why they signed him on a permanent deal.

"Whoever is doing the recruitment at Celtic is doing a first-class job because if Cameron decides to leave it will be for plenty and Celtic will just unearth a replacement. I'm sure they will take the money and run at the end-up, but Cameron will have given them a wonderful run and value for that money and wherever he goes in his career I am sure he will excel."

"He is a man trapped inside a youngster's body"

Billy Reid was assistant to Graham Potter at Swansea during another one of Carter-Vickers' loan spells in 2018/19. Former Hamilton Academical boss Reid reckons his switch to Celtic was a match made in heaven. He believes the American is suited to Scottish football but insists that he has another big career move in him if and when he calls it a day in Glasgow.

"Celtic are a massive club and he could not have picked a better career move trust me. This switch was made in heaven.

"He is a man trapped inside a youngster's body. What a player he is. Nobody will mess him about. He has storm-trooped Scottish football big time. He is strong enough to take everybody and anybody on and he will bully people in the Scottish Premiership.

"His attitude and application are first class and as a professional, he is top drawer. He has made it all look easy and that in itself is an art form because Scottish football is anything but when you consider the way teams set up against you in the top flight.

"Cameron was young when we had him at Swansea and from the very first day of training Graham Potter and I looked at each other and nodded - this guy just relishes the battle. That's why Celtic will shape his career and mould him into an even better player. He knows what his strengths are because he is not the biggest for a centre-back which might have counted against him in the past but not so much now.

"At Swansea, we had three centre-backs. We had Mike van der Hoorn who was our main central defender and we had two younger ones - Joe Rodon and Cameron. Those two were fighting for that second spot alongside van der Hoorn and they were in and out. It was a great battle but Cameron never let us down. He was so dependable and he did what it said on the tin.

"You can see that every week with his performances for Celtic as they are of such a high standard. In the Scottish Cup semi-final against Rangers at Hampden he was outstanding. Both Cameron and Starfelt defended really well. They were under real pressure, and they probably don't get that type of intense pressure playing for Celtic every week, but they withstood it. They only get that kind of pressure in European games. 

"He was one of these kids who nothing was going to faze him. He is what I would call a nailed-on certainty and I saw it for myself back then when I had him at Swansea. His application off the pitch and how he conducts himself off it marked him out to be a special type of a player. He takes everything on board and just wants to improve and get better. To be at a club like Celtic where you are at the top end of the table and competing for and winning all the top prizes is meant for somebody like that. He will say his piece although he is not a screamer and shouter and just gets on with the job. He will definitely lead from the front. He is a natural-born leader.

"He is loving life at Celtic right now but I want to see what happens when he is ready to embrace another challenge and take his game to the next level. At this minute in time Celtic are the biggest beneficiaries here as Cameron is a class act. He is a ball-playing centre-back and it will depend on him how long he wants to stay. I think he has another big move in him and Celtic are the real winners in all of this due to the fact that he is on a long-term contract."