KIERAN TIERNEY has credited a cruel leg break three years ago with making him the player he is.
The Celtic left-back is first choice for club and country at the age of just 20 and looks to have a big future in the game, but it could have been so different.
Having been called into the first-team squad to face Ross County in December 2014, Tierney recalls how he broke his leg while still riding on the high of getting close to appearing for his boyhood side, but admits it has shaped his career.
“The broken leg made me think about how much I appreciate where I am,” Tierney told the club website. “I remember the day after I made the bench against Ross County was the highest I’ve ever been, and a day later I broke my leg. But it made me a better player and a hungrier player.
“It gave me a taste of this and I knew I didn’t want a leg break to be an excuse, so I worked very hard and I made my debut at the end of that season.
“I always said making the bench made me hungry. I was buzzing going out to warm-up and, even though I knew it was unlikely I’d get on, to warm up at Celtic Park gave me a wee taste for it and I just wanted more and more.”
Not only has Tierney emerged as a key player for both Scotland and Celtic, he has also captained both despite his tender years.
That could perhaps come as no surprise for a player who so openly admits to being inspired by another born leader, Scott Brown, who has also worn the armband throughout his career.
He said: “With Broony you see he works hard in training every day, plays every game and never wants to have a rest.
“He just wants to keep going and he’s the perfect captain for our team. For me, to look up to him and be on the same training pitch with him is brilliant.
“I’m looking up to Broony and he doesn’t call this work either. He just loves football. He loves playing and loves training.
“He’s a top professional and hopefully I can be like him in that way.”