THE Rising Sun over Paradise is dazzling for former Celtic hero and lifelong fan Kieran Tierney.
Ange Postecoglou’s stunning fusion of Japanese talent with the Hoops’ title-winning squad has grabbed the imagination of the £25million ace.
Kieran Tierney is well-read on his former team’s new Japanese stars
And Arsenal defender Tierney is well placed for all the inside info on the Far East stars brought to Parkhead by Postecoglou – and taking the Premiership by storm.
Gunners’ team-mate and Japan international Takehiro Tomiyasu – known simply as Tomi by the Arsenal players and staff – effectively becomes Tierney’s Wikipedia when it comes to checking out incomers.
Celtic now boast six Japanese players; Yuki Kobayashi, Yosuke Ideguchi, Tomoki Iwata, Reo Hatate, Kyogo Furuhashi and Daizen Maeda.
And thanks to Tomiyasu, KT’s got a dossier in his mind of each of them.
Only the out in the cold Ideguchi has failed to make an impact and could well exit before this month’s transfer window closes.
Centre-half Kobayashi’s just beginning to bed in after two solid displays while midfielder Iwata made a debut from the bench in the Scottish Cup victory over Morton.
Overall, ex-Yokohama Marinos boss Postecoglou’s inside knowledge of the J-League has paid rich dividends for Celtic.
And Tierney’s gripped by the Japanese dynamic within a bull-dozing team that’s won 24 of 26 domestic games this season, losing just one.
The 25-year-old told SunSport: “I speak to Tomi a lot.
“I didn’t know much about the boys who came in from Japan before and it’s the same with the two signed over the last month.
“I don’t see the J-League and so I’ve been asking Tomi for info and his thoughts on them as players.
“Daizen Maeda was with Tomi in the Japan squad for the World Cup in Qatar.
“Tomi’s been very positive about all the boys signed and that’s been good to hear.
“He’s a great player himself and an excellent team-mate. He’s good company.
“I’m always speaking to Tomi and if ever there’s a Celtic game on at the training ground he sits and watches it with me.
“I’ve tried to make him a Celtic fan!
“It’s funny, but Tomi’s seen that old video of me being presented with boots by Shunsuke Nakamura when I was just a kid at Celtic.
“He was aware of it a long time ago.
“Nakamura was one of Tomi’s heroes growing up, but that goes for so many of the Japanese players all over the world.”
Foreign players have unquestionably added plenty for Celtic over the years.
But for Tierney it’s also important there remains a Scottish core – and he’s thrilled close pals Callum McGregor, Greg Taylor, David Turnbull and James Forrest continue to be at the heart of the Postecoglou revolution.
Tony Ralston and Stephen Welsh have also made decent contributions since the Greek-Aussie landed the hot-seat 19-months ago.
Tierney – previously on record as saying a future second spell at Celtic would be appealing and still the owner of two season tickets – said: “I think it’s important for there to be a Scottish presence in the team.
“Or, at least, people who have grown up knowing everything about the club and have got the mentality of needing to win.
“Callum was seven or eight when he joined and he’s had that winning mentality from that age all the way up.
“And now as captain with every player coming in from different clubs and countries he’s able to help them settle quickly on and off the park. They’re made aware of the necessary standards.
“Right now it looks like every signing just clicks, buys into Celtic immediately. They all seem to be doing so well.
“Callum’s a brilliant captain. But I had no doubt in my mind he would be successful with the armband. No one in the club had doubts.
“I know how much it means to Callum, how professional he is and how much he gives to the club.
“He deserves every bit of success he gets – and I’m sure by the end of the season he’ll have two more trophies to lift.
“Jamesy now has 100 goals and 100 assists. He’s a club legend. What he’s done over all those years – is it 14 now? – is amazing.
“There aren’t many players able to say they’ve done what he is. He’s in the history books.
“Like Callum, he’s another brilliant guy.
“Greg, for me, is a contender for player of the year. He came through a hard time at Celtic with the Covid situation and the missing out on 10.
“But we always knew he was going to be a great player for the club.
“Greg’s different from me. He’s got his own strengths. He’s very technical and on the ball he’s among the best there is.
“I’m so happy he’s established himself in the team. I love him as a person and we text each other weekly.
“David’s another top lad and excellent player – a good friend – while Tony and Stephen are others who can be proud of their contribution after coming through the ranks.”
Tierney’s a huge fan also of Postecoglou.
He added: “What Celtic have done, and are doing just now, is amazing.
“I was gutted for them in the Champions League. I felt they deserved so much more for their performances.
“It’s a journey they’re on in Europe. It’s a bit like Arsenal, steady progress. People can see where you’re going, what you’re trying to do.
“Ange Postecoglou’s bought right into the club. That’s why the fans love him. He’s adored.
“My friends talk about him; certain clips, certain interviews.
“Even when he wears a certain JUMPER people are buying it. You can tell how much he’s loved.”
‘I might be a footy star – but pals never stop slagging me’
Tierney was born on the Isle of Man and lived in London for the last three and a half years.
But you’ll never take Wishaw out of him.
Tierney moved to the North Lanarkshire town when he was only 10-months old.
He’s confessed it took him over a year to settle in London after his record transfer from Celtic to Arsenal but now feels comfortable.
Tierney, however, insisted no matter where his career takes him he’ll always pine for where he was raised.
He said: “I’ll always miss home, but I’m a lot more settled than the first year, 18-months for sure.
“It’s crazy that I’m now in my fourth season at Arsenal. It feels like it’s flown in.
“To be at a club like this with over 100 appearances is very good and it’s something that no one can take away from me.
“It’s a quiet life for me here. I don’t do much.
“I’m not one for going out on the town, I don’t go into London very often.
“I train, I go home, I recover, the odd time I’ll go out for a bit of food local.
“But it’s all good, it suits me fine.
“There’s no chance of me ever being big-headed or have an ego. That’s just the way I’ve been brought up. I’d never want to be like that anyway, but it wouldn’t be fair on my family.
“I was brought up proper with manners.
“I’ll always just be myself.”
Tierney’s childhood pals have never eased up on banter as his career’s rocketed – and that’s suited him perfectly.
His public status is undeniable but as far as he’s concerned he’ll always just be one of the boys.
He said: “Sometimes my pals speak about football but, honestly, not as often as you’d think.
“I’ll come home after a game or training and it’s like ‘what time are you on the Playstation tonight?’
“There’s not a lot of comments on my performances or anything that’s happened in the games.
“It’s a good get-out, I like that. I can get away from things.
“My pals knew me before I became a professional footballer.
“Put it this way, they don’t cut me any slack for being a football player – I still get SLAGGED as much as ever!”
Meanwhile, Tierney’s £25 million price tag – a record for Scottish football – doesn’t weigh heavily on him.
He said: “Maybe when I first joined it was on my mind.
“In terms of some of the transfer fees down here it’s not much.
“But, obviously, it’s the most expensive Scottish one.
“I don’t feel pressure from it, just pride.
“For somebody who has come from the Celtic academy and a working class background, to go on and be a £25million football player – well, that makes me proud.
“I never thought it was going to change who I was or what people thought of me.
“I’ve worked very hard to get to this level and I’ll never ease up.”
Tierney is confident Scotland can hit the ground running in the upcoming Euro qualifiers.
Three of our opening four fixtures are at Hampden, starting with Cyprus and Spain in March.
Both are sell-outs as is the eagerly awaited home friendly against England next September as the Tartan Army truly show their backing for Steve Clarke’s national team, with only the tie against Georgia on June 20 still having tickets available from our scheduled Hampden fixtures in 2023.
Key man Tierney rates it ‘vital’ we get off to a great start.
He told SunSport: “I love it when international duty’s coming up because I love playing for Scotland, I love representing my country.
“The feeling about the camp is very good.
“I love the manager, I love his staff and I’m grateful for every chance I get to play.
“There have been times when I’ve been injured and missed games. So I don’t take any camp, training session or match for granted.
“It will be very important for us to start the Euro qualifiers well. We’ve got Cyprus and Spain at home in March and they’ll be tough ties.
“But we’re at Hampden and we have to believe in ourselves.
“Qualification for another tournament is something we really want to achieve.
“Missing out on the World Cup was a massive disappointment for everyone after the experience of playing in the Euro finals.
“It’s a tough group we’re in with Norway also there.
“But the manager’s always emphasising we have to be full of belief. That we CAN qualify.
“He’s always hammering home the message we have to change our mentality that Scotland don’t qualify for tournaments and the Euros were a one off.
“We need to be a team fighting for every position, every point. It doesn’t matter the opposition, it’s about going out and looking for points and qualifying.”
Tierney, though, confessed losing captain and goalkeeper – broken leg victim Craig Gordon – is a major blow.
He added: “I was gutted when I learned about Craig. It’s the horrendous side of football. I hope he’s okay, I don’t know how long he’ll be out.
“But I wish him the best.
“I noticed Craig saying on Instagram that people had doubted him before and that people have written him off in the past after bad injuries.
“But if anyone knows how to come back from something it’s Craig Gordon.”
Tierney, meanwhile, stressed again he’s got no problem turning out wherever Clarke needs him. Left-back for Arsenal, left-sided centre-half for Scotland.
He added: “Listen, it’s not a problem. I’m delighted wherever he plays me.
“The other week I came off the bench for Arsenal and played left wing.
“I’ll give my all in every position.
“I’m now used to being centre-back in a three – the majority of my caps have been there.
“There’s great competition for left-back with Andy Robertson and Greg Taylor.
“But, just to play, I’ll turn out anywhere for Scotland.”
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