When Kieran Tierney made a Deadline Day transfer from Celtic to Arsenal in the summer of 2019, it would be fair to say there was cautious optimism around the left-back.
A fan favorite of Bhoys and a regular in the Scottish team, the 24-year-old moved to the Emirates to seek treatment for an injury and it was seen as a big step forward.
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Tierney poised to become an Arsenal legend
When he finally joined the squad, another injury halted his progress and Arsenal fans were once again denied sight of the short-sleeved Scott, who was running down the left side.
Yet now in this third season, it is clear that Tierney is emerging as a top-class player for the club and country.
And Arsenal legend Martin Keon believes the full-back should be the club’s new captain after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s armband was removed.
However, Gunners fans had long identified Tierney’s captaincy credentials were on full display as the Premier League went on behind closed doors.
Fans could hear Tierney barking orders at his more experienced teammates – never afraid to voice his opinion, as highlighted against rivals Tottenham in March.
“Boys, we have to score points. How many chances? He roars after another missed opportunity.
Tierney could be heard instructions shouting at his teammates during the north London derby in March
Still, there’s no ego around Tierney, he’s not a player screaming for fun. He simply organizes his troops and demands from his players as much as he expects from himself.
The love affair between Arsenal fans and their humble hero reached unprecedented levels ahead of an FA Cup game against Sheffield United in the 2019/20 season, as he arrived at Bramble Lane holding a Tesco bag containing his shoes for the game.
In the Sunday League, if his appearance took hold, then his performance was different.
His club exploits have continued on the international stage, albeit played somewhat out of position. With Andy Robertson in charge of Steve Clark’s team, Tierney often found himself three-way.
Tierney Rolled Out on Bramall Lane With a Tesco Carry Bag and Fans Loved It
Still a consummate pro, the 24-year-old simply takes off his socks and performs consistently – including providing three assists against the Faroe Islands in March.
Scotland competed in its first major tournament since the 1998 World Cup in France during Euro 2020 this summer.
And although the Tartan Army crashed in the group stage, Tierney started off and kept his clean sheet against the ‘Old Enemy’ at Wembley.
With his mental fortitude, Tierney has once again become an integral part of Scotland by making it to next year’s World Cup qualifiers.
After all, this is a player who broke his leg the day before he was appointed to Celtic’s first team bench. Resilience is embedded in the very fabric of Tierney’s existence.
With ex-Celtic defender Andy Robertson moving backwards to three
Tierney dislocated his shoulder against West Ham in December 2019
It’s not just Arsenal, Celtic and Scotland fans who adore this massive and determined defender. In fact, Tierney has completely transcended football and can name one of the sport’s biggest stars as a close friend.
Former UFC two-weight world champion and Forbes roster regular Conor McGregor developed a close relationship with the defender after a chance encounter at a UFC event in Belfast.
They kept in touch on social media and after McGregor’s friends told the Scotland international that the MMA superstar would be happy to receive it, Tierney presented him with a signed jersey.
Speaking to the Daily Record in 2019, Tierney admitted that he found it difficult to sleep in excitement after seeing the former two-weight world champion wearing the jersey during a training session.
Tierney and McGregor are good friends, with the Arsenal and Scotland man named one of McGregor’s favorite players
“Honestly, I couldn’t sleep that night,” he said. “He posted the photo at 10:50 pm and I was sitting there thinking, ‘Not at all.’ I was the one who stayed up all night, and I used to go to practice.
“I’m a huge fan, especially the way he talks about positivity. It’s all about the state of mind and reaction to people who doubt you, and how to come back after a loss. Any athlete can relate to him.
When the former Celtic defender was out for ten weeks at the end of the 2018/19 season with a groin injury, it was McGregor who gave him some much-needed fitness advice to get back on the field.
He said: “Conor McGregor has been wonderful with me throughout my injury. He has a program on Watts Bike which helped him get in shape and he was advising me on that which was amazing.
‘The Notorious’ wore Tierney’s signature Celtic shirt to the training session
“Anyway, I was working out with a Celtic physiotherapist on Watt Bikes – that’s what gets you in shape through different programs. But I found out about their program and saw if mine was the same.
“I was still following Celtic’s schedule, but his little advice helped me as well. He’s my biggest hero outside of football so it was wonderful. I don’t know how my results compare to his, but it was very nice.
“Great to hear from him. When you are injured you always feel a little lower than usual because you are not on the court to train with everyone.
“Listening to my hero and taking advice from him made me feel a little raised. ,
2016 Dennis Trussello
The Irish megastar is friends with Cristiano Ronaldo and Drake, but Tierney is also a close friend
Although he regularly jokes with Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos on Instagram and even meets with Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, McGregor admitted before his return to the UFC last year that Tierney was actually his Favorite player.
“He has stood out and is a phenomenal, phenomenal football player,” said the Irishman, Arsenal’s left-back.
“I interact with him a lot. He’s a good guy, a good guy and I support him.”
You can be sure that McGregor will keep a close eye on his friend if Tierney creates history again by becoming the next Arsenal captain.
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