Kieran Tierney had a hat-trick of assists last night for Scotland.
Granted, it was against the Faroe Islands. However, the minnows have been on a decent run of form, “making strides” under boss Hakan Ericson [BBC]. Also, it’s Scotland. Being disappointed is in our culture. I can’t have been the only one that was genuinely worried about the game, given historical precedent [Guardian].
It looked for the world that after two consecutive draws, the Faroes could cause the Tartan Army a headache. Kieran Tierney wasn’t going to let that happen, though. The former Celtic man was absolutely everywhere, with 1/8th of the team’s total touches [WhoScored?], 102 passes and, of course, three assists.
It’s remarkable stuff, no matter the opposition. And it put him in elite company.
3 – Kieran Tierney is the first player to assist three goals in a single international match at Hampden Park since Kevin De Bruyne did so against Scotland for Belgium in September 2019. Wand. pic.twitter.com/F3RuJ3M296
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 31, 2021
Obviously, he’s no longer a Celtic player. Arsenal fans absolutely adore him, and it’s not hard to understand why. After a shaky start due to long-term injury concerns, Tierney’s calmness in possession, driving runs and vocal leadership have led to calls for the Gunners captaincy.
Along with Andy Roberston and John McGinn, he represents Scotland’s strides in player development. From a Celtic point of view, his prominence is something to be savoured.
Kieran Tierney shows Celtic Academy can produce gems, if we’re patient
Tierney is still pretty obviously a Celtic obsessive. He’s regularly asked for his view on events at the club. Most recently, he talked up Scott Brown’s abilities as a leader.
More than that, though, he represents what can happen when the club put their trust in youth players. Since him, so few have been given opportunities. Mikey Johnston has been the only real “regular” Academy graduate to see game-time for Celtic’s first-team. Stephen Welsh has featured to decent returns, but only after a defensive crisis at the club.
Obviously, if the players aren’t good enough then they won’t play. But we’ve been frustrated by the same undroppable core of players disappointing, while youngsters star elsewhere. Luca Connell’s midfield ingenuity and Ewan Henderson’s attacking talents, many feel, could’ve been used this season.
So, let’s view Kieran Tierney’s performances, particularly last night for Scotland, as a template of what can happen. Rather than being scared of introducing Academy talent, let’s ensure the next Celtic manager sees it as a prerogative.
As we all know, it’s worked for us before.