He did not go into the record books this week with the moniker of Celtic’s youngster ever captain, but the expectation is that Kieran Tierney’s contribution to the club’s history books is just beginning.
And John Kennedy, Celtic’s first-team coach, believes that Tierney’s lasting legacy could be that he is that rare breed of player who remains with one team for the duration of his career, firmly weaving his way into the folklore of the club in the process.
“He could go and play in the top four in the Premier League no problem,” said Kennedy. I’ve no issue with that. It also wouldn’t surprise me if KT became the Paul McStay of his generation. He could go and play at a very high level. Would he stay at Celtic for all his career? You never know. It wouldn’t surprise me.”
Tierney has been scouted by various English Premiership teams since his emergence to prominence in the Celtic first-team, with his burgeoning reputation cemented by strong displays at Champions League and international level.
A boyhood Celtic fan who has been at the club since he was 8, Tierney has not had his head turned by the figures that have been branded around. One need only look at the inflated market south of the border to come to a swift conclusion that should Celtic cash in on the player, it would be for a significant fee.
Tierney remains focused on Celtic and Kennedy was keen to point out that it is not just on match days when the player shows his dedication, insisting that the perception of the 20-year-old as the fan who got lucky is not restricted to the times when he has an appreciative audience.
“He loves the club. The fans love him,” said Kennedy. “You can see the commitment he shows in games. What people don’t see is the commitment he shows day in day out on the training pitch.
“He’s in a terrific place and is really happy here. Not once has he spoken about going somewhere else. It’s one of them that you pitch it at ‘what level could he go to?”
“You get a lot of full backs who are very good attacking but not so good at defending or the other way around. But he can do both. The biggest things he’s got going for him is his character and his personality.
“He’s one, that if you are going to set an example for young players, he’s right up there with the likes of Scott Brown in terms of how he conducts himself, how he trains and how he plays. He never takes a day off. He’s always out there on the training pitch giving everything he’s got. He’s still got a bit to go in terms of learning the game and fine tuning some of the things in his performances.
“It is hard to put a price on him. In terms of putting a value on him, it’s hard to do that. In terms of what he offers us, he’s become a really big player for us. He got the honour of being captain there in midweek and it was thoroughly deserved. It’s not just a token gesture because the fans like him. It’s because of what he does day in and day out and what he’s done in the past two years – the performances he puts in and the leadership he shows for such a young player.”
Kennedy himself was a graduate of Celtic’s academy structure but his own potential was unrealised due to a debilitating knee ligament injury that prematurely ended his career. As such, there is an added incentive to stress to some of those in the current underbelly of the club to seize the day.
The Parkhead side delivered a comfortable 5-0 win over Kilmarnock in the League Cup this week with five players on show from the club’s academy structure finishing the game. And the current set-up is one that Kennedy believes nurtures players as they knock on the door to the first-team.
Recalling his own introduction to the senior side, Kennedy explained: “Before, you had a team of big personalties who were performing and you just had to get in there and do as best as you can,” he said. “Whereas, the culture here is embracing younger players.
“It was old school to an extent. Things have changed over the past 10 or 15 years. The manager was terrific with us, but it was a bit of sink or swim. You had to produce the goods or you quickly found yourself pushed back again until the next opportunity arose. Here, you guide players on a pathway and really encourage them to go and express themselves.”
Source : HeraldScotland