As he made his introduction to the Champions League group stage, Kieran Tierney rubbed shoulders with some of the biggest stars in world football.
But the 19-year-old Celtic left-back, who made his 50th first-team appearance for the club in Wednesday’s 3-3 draw against Manchester City, remains firmly grounded.
Tierney’s endearing humility shows no sign of changing, regardless of the fact he is now sharing a stage with players such as Lionel Messi and Raheem Sterling, pictured inset.
It’s fair to say his domestic arrangements also remain in sharp contrast to those of the luminaries he is facing in Europe’s elite club tournament. “I still live at home with my mum and dad,” said Tierney. “I try to do the same things as I’ve always done. A few people want photos and stuff with me when I’m out, but apart from that it’s just the same as it’s always been for me.
“I try not to think about what has happened to me over the past year or so too much. I try to keep level-headed and see where it takes me.
“My family keep saying they can’t believe it. It’s mad really. Everyone dreams of this but you never really expect it. It’s good for me and it makes me happy to make my family proud. It’s just the easiest thing for me to stay at home. It saves me cooking and doing the washing and ironing!
“My mum has been great, to be fair. She’s never on to me to tidy my room, so it’s ideal really. My dig money has gone slightly up, but I don’t mind that. It takes a wee bit of pressure off them.”
Tierney’s rise to prominence with club and country has confounded the careers advice he received while a pupil at Our Lady’s High School in Motherwell where his mum Gail still works as a dinner lady. “When I was picking my subjects we had to put down what we wanted to do as a job and I always picked football,” recalled Tierney. “But the teachers told me I can’t do that and I should write down ‘joiner’ or something like that.
“I always chose football though. I’d been playing for Celtic at the academy for six years by that point and someone was saying I couldn’t play football! I wasn’t out to prove anyone wrong, it’s just what I wanted to do.
“My mum always gets asked by people at the school how I’m doing and I’ve been back there for awards ceremonies and other stuff since I left, so that’s been good.
“I’m now doing what every young player dreams of. I’m playing for the club I love and I’ve also got the chance to represent my country. Hopefully things keep going well and I will be working hard to make sure they do.”
Tierney played a prominent role in Celtic’s impressive performance against City, with a hand in their second and third goals. He remains a little miffed Uefa awarded the second one as an own goal for Sterling, having initially credited Tierney with it.
“I’m claiming it,” he said. “It was a great through ball from Tom Rogic and luckily it has ended up in the back of the net. Me and everyone else inside Celtic Park celebrated like it was mine, so I’ll take that.
“I didn’t notice the name of the scorer changing on the scoreboard, but someone told me afterwards. As long as it went in, I wasn’t really caring. But I won’t correct anyone who congratulates me on scoring it. I just tried to hit it towards the back post and make sure it beat the goalkeeper. Sterling deflected it and it went in.
“He is one of the world’s best wingers and one of the fastest guys in football. So it was a great experience for me to play against him.
“I felt I did okay. He is a £50 million player, so he is going to get crosses in and do good stuff in the game. You expect that. But I tried my best against him and hopefully did okay.
“Hopefully it showed we learned from the 7-0 defeat in Barcelona. That was a brutal experience and you never want to go through that in your career. So you learn from it and the way we played on Wednesday showed that.
“We will take belief and confidence from it. We were the first team not to lose to City this season, so that’s great for us. In general, the way we played was great, not just the result.”