Making It Pro with Kieran Tierney: Arsenal defender
Scotland defender reflects on his journey from jumping fences to play on red ash pitches, and signing his first professional contract at Celtic
Last Updated: 09/05/20 10:39pm
Kieran Tierney opens up on his footballing roots, how life as a roofer beckoned as he struggled to get his career off the ground at Celtic, and his immense pride in signing for the club his family supported.
The Scotland international sheds light on his journey from being born on the Isle of Man to being spotted by Celtic at the tender age of seven before being made to sweat to sign his first professional contract at his boyhood club.
The Arsenal defender sat down with Soccer AM's Adam Smith to reflect on his career, in association with EA Sports FIFA 20...
What is your first footballing memory?
It would be me and my dad going to those red ash parks. We'd have to jump the fence to get into the school, and we'd just shoot at each other. I think he had to move one of the slates in the fence to let me in. That was my earliest memory, I must have been about three-years-old, and not long after that was my first Celtic game.
What was growing up in a Celtic household like?
Everyone was massive Celtic fans. My dad and my uncle ran supporters' buses, so I'd always go on them growing up. That was always my dream as a child, going to football on the bus, my mates were on the same bus, it was brilliant.
How about signing for Celtic at such a young age?
I was playing with my boys club at the time, I was seven years old but was playing with the under-nines, which was the year above me. I was playing left midfield, I was quite fast when I was young, and after a game one day as we were driving out and the coach was shouting at my dad to come back.
He was away for 10, 15 minutes, I didn't think anything of it, but he came back and said I had a trial with Celtic. I can't remember the game, if I played well or scored, I never thought anything like that was possible for me.
I told all of my friends and family and then every Friday for the next few years I play at my boys club and I was going to train with Celtic, and then, when I was 10 years old, that's when I signed officially for Celtic.
Who was your footballing role model?
It was Roberto Carlos. He was fast, strong, he was the left-back I would look up to. When we were younger, we would take free-kicks and try and do what he had done. I never replicated it!
Shunsuke Nakamura was another one because he was left-footed, I always looked up to left-footed players and his free-kicks were next level.
Do you remember signing your first professional contract?
Celtic sent you to school when you were 14 or 15 and we had to do a project, which was hard. At the end of the second year, you get told if you're getting a contract or not.
I was one of the last people in the team to be told, there were people saying they had been given a three-year deal and I'd been offered nothing. I wasn't getting a game either, I was on the bench and had to move down in the age groups to get a game.
It got to the stage where my dad said we might have to get another club or think about a job because football might not work. I wasn't playing, I wasn't being offered a contract and my dad was a roofer at the time, so I looked at doing an apprenticeship with him.
But near the very end, I got offered a one-year deal. Other people had three-year deals but to just have that chance was brilliant, I was so proud.