Kieran Tierney discusses his emotions surrounding Celtic exit

By Lewis Laird

August 5, 2022

Former Celtic defender Kieran Tierney has opened up on his difficult decision to leave the Hoops to join Arsenal in 2019.

The 25-year-old came through the Lennoxtown academy, making his debut for the club as a teenager in 2015 against Dundee.

After coming into the side as a regular under Ronny Deila, Tierney continued to develop as a player year upon year, becoming a quality full-back for the Hoops.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

The Scotland internationalist’s best years at Parkhead came working under Brendan Rodgers, who took the defender’s game to a whole new level.

Tierney’s dramatic rise caught the eye of several English Premier League sides from a very young age. However, he remained with his boyhood heroes, winning three trebles along the way.

In the summer of 2019, the left-back completed a move away from Celtic Park after spending five successful years as part of the first team, joining Arsenal.

The full-back became Scotland’s most expensive ever player, heading to the Emirates for a fee believed to be in the region of £25 million.

It may have been the big money move that was always bound to come for a player of Tierney’s quality. However, it wasn’t an easy decision for him, leaving the club he had supported all his life.

Speaking in a recent interview, Tierney opened up on his feelings surrounding his exit, insisting it was the ‘hardest decision’ he has had to make and stated he was fearful of supporters’ reaction after the surprise exit of Brendan Rodgers a few months earlier.

Photo by Chloe Knott – Danehouse/Getty Images

He said [Daily Mail]: “I was easily the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make because of how much it pulled on my heart strings. My family loved going to Celtic games and seeing their son, brother, nephew, cousin play, and I felt bad taking that away from them.”

Tierney continued: “We’d seen the reaction that Brendan Rodgers had got (when he left Celtic for Leicester), so it was kind of scary. But it’s a very small minority. 

“A lot of people messaged me saying: ‘All the best’, ‘We’re so proud of you’, ‘Go down there and smash it’. I still look back and see those as my best days — to be playing for your boyhood club. I lived the dream.”

A move to England was always destined for Tierney, but one day he may just return to Paradise.

We have seen many examples of it in the past; having a player of Tierney’s quality at Celtic is bound to lead to a move to England.

However, there was a small glimmer of hope from sections of the support that he would stick around due to his links to the club.

Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Despite his strong links to the fan base, once the full-back had moved on, we were able to accept a move south of the border would be best to further his career.

There may have been a few who reacted poorly to the move, but as Tierney states, they were in the minority, and most supporters were wishing him well and hoping to see him succeed at his new club.

It is clear to see that the left-back still loves the club, and hopefully, his move to the English Premier League hasn’t ended his Celtic story.

There is almost a feeling of certainty that there will come a day when Tierney is linked with a move back to Paradise, and you would imagine he is keen on doing exactly that later on in his career.

In other news, Celtic captain insists Fran Alonso’s side are hungry for more success this season.