Kieran Tierney has already made himself a fan favourite with the Arsenal faithful and even former player and manager, Terry Neill, has been singing his praises.

Arsenal's Scottish defender Kieran Tierney controls the ball during the English FA Cup semi-final football match between Arsenal and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium in London, on July 18, 2020. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / POOL / AFP)
Arsenal’s Scottish defender Kieran Tierney controls the ball during the English FA Cup semi-final football match between Arsenal and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium in London, on July 18, 2020. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / POOL / AFP)

In what has been a frustrating season for many reasons, Kieran Tierney’s performances after recovering from injury have been one of a few bright lights on a dark road.

The former Celtic ball boy, who graduated through their ranks to win titles with the senior team, has shown clearly why Arsenal were so persistent in their chase for him last summer.

Scottish Daily Mail, 26 July 2020
Scottish Daily Mail, 26 July 2020

“He’s been brilliant for us and the more I see him, the more I like him,” Terry Neill, who played for Arsenal for 11 years before managing them for seven, told the Scottish Mail on Sunday.

“He comes across as a level-headed young lad, very self-effacing and that’s surely down to his family and friends and the way he was brought up.

“Ashley Cole was superb. He was a great player and it’s obviously still early days with Kieran but, from what I’ve seen so far, I’ve been immensely impressed by him.

“Let’s also not forget that Kieran is still only 23 and he’s not nearly as good yet as he’s going to be.

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - MAY 14: Arsenal manager Terry Neill (c) and coach Don Howe (l) talk with the players including John Hollins (l) and Alan Sunderland (2nd right) before extra time during the 1980 European Cup Winners Cup Final against Valencia at the Heysel Stadium on May 14, 1980 in Brussels, Belguim, Valencia won the match on penalties (Photo by Duncan raban/Allsport/Getty Images)
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM – MAY 14: Arsenal manager Terry Neill (c) and coach Don Howe (l) talk with the players including John Hollins (l) and Alan Sunderland (2nd right) before extra time during the 1980 European Cup Winners Cup Final against Valencia at the Heysel Stadium on May 14, 1980 in Brussels, Belguim, Valencia won the match on penalties (Photo by Duncan raban/Allsport/Getty Images)

“Every time I see him he looks better than the time before, so there’s even more to come from him but it’s not just his performances I’ve been taken by.

“Football and life is about more than just the odd flash of talent but when I hear Kieran being interviewed on television he seems to be a grounded individual, although his mental strength stands out as well.

“He’s clearly been well-schooled at Celtic and he’s a credit to his family.

“It’s obvious that he didn’t get carried away by winning all those consecutive titles at Parkhead.

“We haven’t met yet but I’m looking forward to the day that happens and establishing a connection between Belfast and Celtic!

Kieran Tierney and Hector Bellerin (Photo via Arsenal.com)
Kieran Tierney and Hector Bellerin (Photo via Arsenal.com)

“I’m anticipating the time when I can have a little one-on-one with Kieran. He’s worked hard to get where he is but he still comes across as a smashing guy and I’d love to have a chat with him.

“I go to most of the games at the Emirates and I thought we’d have crossed paths by now but if I have to go down to the training ground to see him then I will because I can’t wait to meet him. Over the years I’ve known Celtic legends like Charlie Tully, Billy McNeill and Danny McGrain.

“Great footballers but also great men which, at the end of the day, is much more important.

“Bertie Peacock was another. He was one of my greatest mentors, first as a team-mate in the Northern Ireland team and then as the manager.

“I loved the man dearly and, at his funeral, I had the privilege of carrying his coffin.

“He was widely adored because he was brilliant on the pitch but he was also a humble man and I think Kieran is cut from the same cloth.

“He could have stayed with Celtic, especially with them going for 10 in a row, but he clearly wanted to test himself and that shows ambition,” said Neill.

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 09: Referee Mike Dean helps Kieran Tierney of Arsenal leave the pitch following an injury during the Premier League match between West Ham United and Arsenal FC at London Stadium on December 09, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 09: Referee Mike Dean helps Kieran Tierney of Arsenal leave the pitch following an injury. Premier League match between West Ham United and Arsenal FC at London Stadium on December 09, 2019, in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

“At the moment — and, hopefully, this will continue throughout his career — that £25million Arsenal paid Celtic for him is looking like an absolute steal.

“Full-backs are expected to attack nowadays, to bomb forward and get crosses in but a lot of them can’t do the basics when it comes to defending.

“Tierney can. He can tackle, close people down and he’s also shown that he can move into the centre of defence and play in a back three whenever it’s been necessary. He’s an excellent all-round footballer.

“I know that he’s also played at right-back for Scotland and to do that at international level just shows what an intelligent player he is.

“I genuinely believe that, if Arteta were to say to him: “Kieran, we’re a bit short up front, we need you to play centre-forward today”, he’d relish the challenge. It wouldn’t faze him.

“To be honest, I can’t speak highly enough of him. His assist for Pierre-Emerick Aubemayang’s second goal in the semi-final win against Manchester City last weekend was outstanding.

“Hopefully, it won’t go to his head but I can’t see that happening and, when I do eventually see him, I’ll tell him to make sure he keeps his feet on the ground.

“But he has everything you need; he’s brave and talented and he has pace, which is vital.

“He’s an athlete but he has the footballing quality to go with it, which isn’t always the case.

“I know that there’s been a quandary for Scotland managers because Kieran and Andy Robertson both play in the same position but those two lads are so good you could play them anywhere and you’d be all right.

Manchester City's Belgian midfielder Kevin De Bruyne (L) tackles Arsenal's Scottish defender Kieran Tierney during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on June 17, 2020. - The Premier League makes its eagerly anticipated return today after 100 days in lockdown but behind closed doors due to coronavirus restrictions. (Photo by LAURENCE GRIFFITHS / POOL / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. / (Photo by LAURENCE GRIFFITHS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Manchester City’s Belgian midfielder Kevin De Bruyne (L) tackles Arsenal’s Scottish defender Kieran Tierney during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on June 17, 2020. (Photo by LAURENCE GRIFFITHS / POOL / AFP) 

‘[Tierney’s slow start at Arsenal] was only down to his injury, which must have been a sickener for him,” he added. “But then he showed what he was made of by coming back from it the way he has done.

“Our first impressions of him were good anyway — he didn’t need time to adjust to the tempo of the game in England, that’s for sure.

“He just got on with it, got his fitness to where it needed to be and slotted straight back into the first team. Let’s put it this way: he’ll be one of the first names Arteta puts on the team sheet for the FA Cup final against Chelsea.

“It’s not about luck, it’s about being a good player and having that will to win.

“With luck, Kieran will have another 10-12 years left at the top, so let’s hope Arsenal and Scotland both have him for a long time to come.”

In total, ahead of final league game of the season against Watford game on Sunday, Tierney has played 902 league minutes and is still awaiting his first assist or goal in that competition.

He has managed three assists already, however, with two coming in four games in the Europa League and one in two games in the FA Cup.

You can see if Tierney is expected to play in our Arsenal Predicted XI for the game against the Hornets who need to better Aston Villa’s result away to West Ham to stay in the Premier League.

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Writer. Feminist. Dreamer. Gooner. Owner of DailyCannon.com, writing about Arsenal since 2008. Sometimes found in the Guardian, Vice.com & elsewhere talking queer issues, politics & football. If in doubt, assume sarcasm.