The hype surrounding Kieran Tierney, Celtic’s current teenage wunderkind, will be recognisable to Paul McStay from old. Indeed, it is happening with the Isle of Man-born left-back because of an old McStay, writes Andrew Smith. It was the former Celtic captain’s father John, a Celtic scout, who recommended the club sign Tierney, pictured, after watching him play in Netherton in his hometown of Wishaw.
Now, despite reports that the youngster is being earmarked by a number of English Premier League clubs as a possible signing target this summer, McStay believes the parallels between himself and Tierney – that include the age they made their senior Scotland debuts – could run to soaking up the schooling available at the club they grew up desperate to play for.
“As it was my dad who identified Kieran at a very young age, for us from a family point of view it’s great to see him progressing the way he is,” said McStay. “I just think he should enjoy his development at Celtic. There are a lot of similar things [to myself] because he is in the team early, he travelled to watch Celtic with his family and he’s a Celtic supporter. So I’m sure he wants to enjoy as many years there as he can – enjoy success and win trophies. I think that will be foremost in his mind.
“He is living the dream so I hope he does that for as long as he wants to do it. If he moves down the line then that’s the way football is. That’s a decision he will make. He just has to learn the game. He’s young and done great. He has also made his international debut, which is fantastic, and that’s great for the Scottish game, not just Celtic, that there is a young talent like that coming through.”
Tierney, above, was one of the few Celtic players not afflicted by the passivity that left them looking second best against Rangers in Sunday’s Scottish Cup semi-final, and McStay believes it is a mark of the boy that he could stand up when others failed to in such a pressurised fixture.
“His performance suggested he had been playing there for a few years,” McStay said. “In terms of pressing, Kieran is probably the only one who led the team that way, pressing and closing down. I was sitting with my dad and my brothers, Willie and Raymond, in the stand close to where Kieran was playing in the first half and sometimes he had two or three players round about him. But he was working so hard to close down and I didn’t see much communication round about him. He was left to do it himself but he handled it very well. He looked to be tiring but he still found that energy to get up and create that goal in extra time.
“Playing with one of the biggest clubs in the world is not a bad place to play your football. Hopefully next season he will get the opportunity to play against some of the best players in the world in European football.
“You are playing in front of great crowds every week, passionate fans who just want to see you doing well, so for me it’s a great place for him to learn his trade. I just want to talk about Kieran being at Celtic and enjoy watching him. If he moves down the line, wherever he goes he will walk into that particular first team. He will do well wherever he goes.
“He still has a lot to learn and there as aspects of his game that I’m sure he will want to work on but, right now, he is one of the star players.”