Kieran Tierney: I want to become a Celtic legend

Celtic's Kieran Tierney with his Young Player of the Year trophy. Picture: Craig Foy/SNS
Celtic's Kieran Tierney with his Young Player of the Year trophy. Picture: Craig Foy/SNS
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PERHAPS one of the factors in the disconnect between the Celtic support and the club in recent years has been that, no sooner have the former taken a favoured player to their hearts than he abandons them, wooed away by a wealthier suitor.

Ki Sung Yeung, Gary Hooper, Victor Wanyama, Fraser Forster, Jason Denayer and Virgil van Dijk have all come and gone in recent years, sold to balance the books and compensate for the failure to generate significant income from European competition.

There is a pragmatism at play here, too. None of the aforementioned claimed to grow up playing Subbuteo with their team in green-and-white hoops, nor were they weaned on tales of the Lisbon Lions.

Kiernan Tierney is different. Not only did he grow up cheering on the club whose shirt he wears with such obvious pride but, speaking after being named as PFA Scotland’s Young Player of the Year, the 18-year-old made it perfectly clear he has no intention of playing for anyone else.

“Celtic is my dream club,” he said. “I have been here for 11 years and I am playing first-team football for the club I grew up supporting.

“I’m loving every minute of it. I tend not to look at stories about me too much, although sometimes you cannot avoid it. I’ve been linked with big clubs but it’s just Celtic for me.

“Like I say, it’s the dream. I’ve probably used the word dream a lot this season, but it really is for me to be playing in the first-team at Celtic.

“I need to realise how lucky I am to be in this position and I try my best every day to be so grateful for it. When you are a wee guy, you want to grow up and become a Celtic legend.

“Obviously, I am miles off that just now because my career has only just started. I just hope I can keep on playing for Celtic. That’s all I want.”

Tierney was mad about Celtic even before he signed his first forms for them while still at primary school in Lanarkshire and his relatives share his passion.

“I used to love going to the games as a ball-boy,” he revealed. “You would go to the ground really early and hit some shots, then give the players the ball back when they hit their shots during the warm-up.

“So I know exactly how the current boys will be feeling and their dream will be the same as mine was, to go on and play for the first team.”

Tierney is now guaranteed a place in the club’s record books after claiming his first winner’s medal, effectively guaranteeing a fifth successive Premiership title with the 3-1 victory over Hearts on 
Saturday.

“If you saw me at Tynecastle, you would have noticed that I didn’t want to come off the pitch,” he grinned. “I honestly didn’t want the celebrations to end.

“Obviously, it was such an amazing occasion for me and I was really passionate about it; that’s why I was celebrating with the fans.

“It was a dream come true but the other reason I stayed on the park so long was that I was searching for my family! I knew they were in the ground somewhere but I couldn’t catch their eye because I didn’t know what seats they were in.

“Naturally, I didn’t want to go back to the dressing room without seeing them, but I had to. I couldn’t spot them. It turned out that they were up the back of the stand, which is why I missed them.”

Winning his first Scotland cap when he started the 1-0 
victory over Denmark at Hampden in March seems all the more remarkable to a teenager who had anticipated that he could have been accumulating experience in League 1 or League 2 rather than facing Christian Eriksen.

“I never ever thought these things could have happened to me, especially at such a young age,” he said. “People say coming through at Celtic is hard and there is no doubt that it is because it’s a club with such high standards.

“I was fortunate enough to be given the chance when I’d probably have expected at this point to still be playing for the Under-20s or, maybe, out on loan at a lower league club somewhere.”