KIERAN Tierney has heaped praise on Emilio Izaguirre for helping him adapt to the Celtic team, even though he’s replaced him in Ronny Deila’s side.
In a week where Scottish football, its coaching methods and the handling of talented youngsters have been highlighted for vigorous debate, the young left-back has given the nation a rare glimpse of optimism for the future after his impressive breakthrough into the Parkhead first team.
Tierney has received plenty of praise for his recent displays and was widely regarded as one of the very few Celtic players who received pass marks in their European displays.
He’s representing Scot Gemmill’s Scotland Under-19 team this week in their European qualifiers in Limerick and he provided both assists in their opening 2-0 win on Friday against Latvia.
The level-headed Tierney could be forgiven for getting carried away after a whirlwind introduction to the Celtic first team. But he’s praised the club’s senior players for helping him into the side, especially long-serving Honduras international Izaguirre, who has been dropped in favour of Celtic’s emerging talent.
Tierney said: “Emilio Izaguirre helps me a lot, especially given he plays in the same position. It’s a good team full of professionals.
“Emilio’s played at the World Cup so obviously anything he says I’ll take on board.
“He’s absolutely brilliant with me and it hasn’t just been the last few weeks or even this season. It’s been over the last year as well. He’s taken me under his wing, given me tips and I’m extremely grateful for that.
“Scott Brown’s been amazing with me too. Scott’s obviously done everything as captain of his club and country, so he gives me tips what to do at various times.
“My aims in the summer were to train with the first team every day, travel with them and prove myself any time I got on to the park.
“My experiences recently with Celtic have definitely helped me push on. I’ve played in big games, top of the table clashes and Europa League games. That can only be a positive. It’s been nuts, the progress I’ve made.
“I’ve played three games in a row and done reasonably well. The manager’s happy so I just need to work hard to try and keep my place. The highlights so far have to be the Europa League nights. To get that at my age is amazing and the atmosphere at Celtic Park on these nights can’t be beaten.”
Tierney has been a young Scottish success story, but there is plenty of exciting young talent in Gemmill’s squad, ahead of their second game today against Slovenia.
Parkhead team-mates Aidan Nesbitt, Joe Thomson and captain Jack Breslin all impressed against the Latvians and there were excellent performances too from Chelsea youngster Ruben Sammut, Rangers striker Ryan Hardie and Nottingham Forest winger Oliver Burke.
But Tierney is one of the few in the squad who are getting first- team action.
The 18-year-old thinks more managers should trust the youth in their squad with Scotland Under-19s proof there is plenty of young talent. And he’s praised manager Deila for giving him and his team-mates a taste of the action.
He said: “There’s definitely hope for a future. This is a great team that we have and I think the under-21 squad is good too, with a few people pushing for their first teams.
“Against Raith Rovers in the League Cup a few weeks ago it was Aidan Nesbitt and I playing on the left for the last five minutes, just like it has been since we were seven or eight years old.
“It’s been brilliant for us to come through the ranks together like that. It’s amazing to think about it. We’ve been great friends throughout that time.
“The manager’s shown he will give young players a chance and Joe Thomson has had a taste of it as well. Celtic is definitely the right place for a young player to play, especially when you have a manager like we have.
“He’s delighted to give young players a chance and I think that’s a big part of his philosophy, to bring people through.”