Former Celtic staffer explains why Kieran Tierney made the grade

By Euan Davidson

November 16, 2021

We know Kieran Tierney now as a former Celtic fan favourite, Arsenal’s best player, and a Scotland stalwart.

KT was once again instrumental in another international spell for Scotland. Playing at centre-back against Denmark, the one-time Celtic captain made a whopping 8 ball recoveries and won 2 duels [Fotmob].

It wasn’t always that way, though. Diminutive but determined, KT took his opportunities to impress at youth level, but they weren’t always forthcoming.

Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

David Moss, who divulged information about former Celtic defender Virgil van Dijk and target Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, has given his take on Tierney’s development. While it wasn’t particularly smooth sailing for the £25m man, his attitude set him apart, says Moss.

The former Bhoys scout said [Goal]:

“Tierney was only 13 when I joined Celtic, and in my third or fourth week, we went to a tournament for top clubs in Belgium.

“We were playing Barcelona and Real Madrid and he was on the bench as a second choice left-back. It was like that until the Under-16s really. It was because he was smaller than the others and there was another one they preferred at the time.

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“Sometimes you have to look past the immediate output and see potential, and that’s what I saw in Kieran. I always saw Kieran had determination and character, which is a big part of being a professional.

“He isn’t a Wilf[ried] Zaha in terms of technique or catching the eye, but he does have some technical ability and combines it with being athletic and mentally strong.”

Kieran Tierney and his mindset set him apart in the end

There’s definitely a lesson here.

Kieran Tierney certainly wasn’t always a favourite for the first-team. He struggled for chances, and had to learn how to use the attributes he had to full effect.

When he did, eventually coming on for Emilio Izaguirre to make his Celtic debut, what an impact he had. Fast, determined, confident on the ball and eager to join the attack, Tierney always had the raw materials to be successful. It was just harnessing them to maximum impact that was the trick.

Photo by Alex Nicodim/NurPhoto via Getty Images

There’ll be Academy talents who aren’t getting picked, but have the attitude of a young KT. You’d have to hope they’ve read or heard Moss’ comments. Mindset counts for so, so much. We’ve certainly seen technically decent players come through the Academy, but fail to make a lasting impression.

Now undoubtedly one of Scottish football’s biggest names, it was focus, energy and positivity that made Kieran Tierney.

He would add to his game in a significant way, but those key attributes made him a success.

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