From spending time backstage with his musical hero Jake Bugg to receiving VIP front row seats for UFC fight nights, Kieran Tierney has been discovering there are many perks associated with being Scottish football’s brightest talent.
The 20-year-old Celtic defender, who has had the impact of a proverbial lightning bolt with his displays for both club and country, enjoys the fringe benefits of his own burgeoning profile but admits he still found it hard not to feel star struck in the company of million-selling singer-songwriter Bugg at Queen’s Hall in Edinburgh earlier this week.
“It was around five or six years ago that I got properly into his music and went to see him about three or four times,” said Tierney.
“I put pictures of him on my Instagram page and then he invited me to come backstage for the gig in Edinburgh, which was surreal. I can’t really get over it and I’ll never take it for granted. I know how lucky I am.
“He is a big football fan, Notts County is his team and he spoke about how well Callum McGregor did when he was on loan down there a few seasons ago. We have followed each other through Twitter for a while, so we’ve been in contact for the last year or so.
“He had asked me for a signed Celtic top, so I took that along to the gig. Hopefully he’s a Celtic fan now too. I’ve asked him along to a game at Celtic Park whenever he can make it.
“He was brilliant with me, so down to earth. It was the first time I’d met him in person, having spoken to him a few times before, and he was brilliant with me and my friends.
“It’s brilliant for my pals – they are all buzzing for any front row seats or free tickets which come along! I’ve been to UFC shows as well, which I love, and they looked after us really well too. It’s nice that it’s not only my life which has changed, but that it’s also brilliant for my family and friends. Making everyone around me happy and proud is the best thing about it.”
Tierney’s musical tastes are of the eclectic variety and not entirely typical of his age group. The sounds thumping out of the Celtic dressing room at Hampden and through to the media mixed zone after last month’s Betfred Cup semi-final win over Hibs were testimony to that.
“Aye, that was my mix CD,” he laughed. “It was Whitney Houston and other stuff from the 80s and 90s. I wasn’t born when it was out but I think my musical taste is brilliant, to be fair! I think if I played Jake Bugg in the dressing room, it would get turned off – the rest of the players are into different stuff than me. I like Jake, Oasis, Stone Roses, that kind of thing. But the lads often ask me to do the tunes after a game, so I must be doing something right.”
Having been captain of Scotland for the first time last week, Tierney reaches another landmark moment today when he makes his 100th appearance for Celtic in their Premiership fixture against Ross County in Dingwall.
“I could never have envisaged this when I made my debut,” he admitted. “It’s happened quite quickly as well, despite the injuries I’ve had.
“I remember I had been in the first-team squad for a few games at the end of 2014, then we played Ross County at home on 27 December and I’d made the bench for the very first time. The next day I broke my leg at training and I was thinking ‘What chance do I have?’ but I believe that made me hungrier.”
Tierney has already reached a century of appearances for Celtic at the age when the club’s greatest full-back of all time, Danny McGrain, made his debut. McGrain, still a member of the backroom staff at Celtic’s training centre, went on to make 679 appearances.
“How many games did he play?” queried Tierney. “That’s mad, isn’t it? I’m just taking it as it comes, I don’t take anything for granted and work as hard as I can every day.”