Kieran Tierney 19 Defender Celtic Scotland
Celtic left-back Kieran Tierney was born on the Isle of Man but moved to Scotland as a baby, and was practically still a baby when he joined Celtic’s youth system in 2005. He made his first team debut ten years later, and he’s having to get used to being in the spotlight.
2016 has been…
Tierney’s breakthrough year. He became first choice left-back in 2015/16, making most of his 23 Scottish Premiership starts since the turn of the year. He racked up six assists for the season, scored in Celtic’s hammering of Motherwell in May, and is now very much the man in possession of the left-back berth. With four assists in eight starts, 2016/17 looks to be going the same way for title-winning Tierney.
That ever-present run was curtailed in October by an ankle ligament injury sustained in training but he got plenty done in the first ten months of the calendar year. He was one of Celtic’s better players in the back end of last season; while others cruised, he used the end-of-season dead rubbers to his advantage and was recognised with a pair of Player of the Year awards.
This season, his good progress has continued in Scotland but he found life a little harder in the UEFA Champions League. He was exploited by Barcelona, but he was far from alone. He’s rarely beaten one-on-one in domestic football. At 19, that’s what really counts.
Tierney is Celtic’s width on the left. He’s always looking to be involved, and he’s willing to drive at opponents with the ball and push inside to create in the final third, a real feature of his game. His starting position is slightly narrower than a lot of young, modern full-backs, which means he can occasionally be caught out by a wide attack, but when Celtic have the ball Tierney is high up the pitch, hugging the touchline.
He’s calm and assured on the ball, has a smart short passing game and is able to burn past opponents to run onto balls in the channel and put in his trademark crosses.
That pace is a feature of his defensive game too. He reads the game well and makes clever and crucial interceptions that mark him out as something a bit special. Tenacity and determination match that intelligence. What’s more, there’s nothing negative in his game that can’t be ironed out with experience.
Tierney’s injury will keep him out until the early part of next year and Celtic will welcome his return now they have added competition in the Premiership title race. Overcoming that often difficult recovery period will be at the front of his mind in 2017.
So too will his international future. Tierney has breezed through Scotland’s youth teams, playing just a few times before his senior debut in March. He now has a couple of caps and could well be capable of unseating Andrew Robertson before too long. Keep your eyes peeled for this kid.
B A name you’ll be hearing a lot very soon
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