On Sunday night at Hampden Park, we watched a ball awkwardly spin off the left foot of Chris 'They were saying Boourns' Martin and he somehow managed to divert it past one of the best goalies in Europe, Jan Oblak, to give Scotland a priceless win and give himself the headlines in the papers the following day.
Humbly tucked away in the wee sections of the main articles in the aftermath of the match reports, were the deserved plaudits coming in for Kieran Tierney, playing in the unfamiliar position of right back, in only his third cap for the national side.
Speaking to BBC Sport, Tierney had been training in preparation for that role all week, and was flung into the berth to nullify Copenhagen’s Benjamin Verbic, and he effectively stopped the Slovenian winger provide any kind of outlet to help Craig Gordon secure a vital clean sheet.
The sheer confidence of KT for a guy who is not even 20 yet is pretty incredible. Many years ago, before I became a Yer Da caricature , I was a competent left back at fitba and watching Tierney in his ‘early days’ reminded me of myself in the respect that I wasn’t fazed by being up against anyone and was the youngest in the team. That’s where the similarities end though, so don’t think this is going to be some blog about how I want all my hair back and I dream of waking up to Tony ‘Big Dog’ Blair as the Prime Minister again in the morning. The point I’m making is, to be chucked into a game against Fenerbahce in 2015, not look one bit out of place up against proven internationals, and to cement that position as his own in the space of a few months, and then come back even more improved from a lengthy injury, is some going.
Kieran Tierney is something very special, and my shoot opinion is that he will eventually prove to be Scotland’s version of Gareth Bale.
There will be cries of ‘Bosh’ and ‘Flimshaw’ to that statement and already any Brexit voting John Smith loving halfwit who may have the literacy skills to understand that is no doubt lining up his ‘My Nan could play there for Scotland’ patter rounded off with the typical ‘tinpot league’ burn.
However, when Bale made his debut for Wales at sixteen, he wasn’t just being shoehorned in to break a record that he was their youngest ever player, there was a genuine belief that he was the real deal, or had the potential to be the Ryan Giggs of the new generation. Almost ten years on from his debut against Trinidad and Tobago, look at where he is now. Tearing it up for Real Madrid and has bulked up to the point that he could be in the Avengers – those who may have scoffed and sneered at him in 2006 are more than likely nowhere to be seen, or donating to some liars blog. That’s their real news and that’s the real quiz!
The next few years are imperative for Tierney’s development. He’s already a guaranteed starter every week for Celtic, his standards are high and his attitude is terrific. Brendan Rodgers may decide to stay with the same left back/left mid combo of Tierney/Sinclair for next season but if he does decide to invest in a new left back, I think Tierney could play at left midfield and be even more productive than he already is at full back. Without turning into a stats wanker, he’s had over ten assists already this season which is better than some wingers in the SPFL, can you imagine how frightening he could be if he went on the Bale diet and turned into Triple H? Game over for anyone up against him, admit it.
Short term at least, Tierney’s versatility and attitude has now given Brendan another option for right back, after his excellent performance for the national team.
Long term, I’d love to see KT being even more attacking than he already is, pushed further up the pitch and being told to focus solely on terrorising right backs, hopefully for Celtic!
I am resigned to the fact the club will more than likely cash in on him in the future, and he won't be with us forever, as I said on GIGPOD , fitba has changed and the days of players staying at the club they love is as rare as Reidzo saying something funny on here, but I am confident that if Tierney does move on, it will be for a LOT of money that I'm sure the club will use to great effect.