Kieran Tierney, we wish you well.
There it is, the sentence I was hoping I could write with a straight face and full honesty.
And tonight I can because I just watched him talk about the move and some of the nonsense that’s been written about it over the last 24 hours has been put into the correct perspective.
Kieran admits the decision to leave was “the most difficult I’ve had to make in my life” but that he made it for what he sees as good reasons. It was “too good an opportunity” for him to turn down. He discussed it with family. He discussed it with friends.
He wanted to know what they thought, and whether it was the right thing to do.
The advice he got was probably good advice.
Look, Kieran could have been a rich man in Scotland, and he would have been the lynchpin of the quest for ten in a row.
He has put his career first, and decided it won’t wait. I suspect the number of games he’s played in the past three years has a lot to do with that, and there must have been times when he was out injured when he pondered how short a football career is.
I remember saying to Phil last month that he must have watched David Turnbull go through Hell as his Celtic move collapsed, and that any person would be fearful of what might happen to his own body in the kind of environment we have here.
Let’s not forget, he was the most fouled player in Scotland.
All of that will have been factored into his thinking.
“When I was younger, it was always Celtic,” he said. “The ambition was Celtic and that was my dream when I was younger. But when you get older… I’ve done that, I’ve made my dream, I’ve lived my dream and I’ve loved every single minute of it. Now I just feel was the right time to take a step on. I feel this is a great opportunity for me.”
This is not someone who was forced out of the club.
This was a grown man’s decision, made with the full understanding of what it would mean.
A better league. More money for himself and his loved ones. Financial security on a whole other level.
He will earn roughly treble his current salary, and over the course of the five-year deal will find himself a very rich man.
He’ll be 27 when that contract expires. Set up for the rest of his live.
All I ever ask someone on their departure from Celtic is that they don’t treat us like mugs, that they don’t kiss the badge, express regrets, vow to keep us in their hearts forever. It is sycophantic claptrap and insults the intelligence of fans.
Kieran has been unflappably honest about the choice he’s made and hearing him talk I am struck by his maturity. He didn’t even try to play the “my heart bleeds for Glasgow” card … he has treated us, all of us, with respect. That is the measure of him.
As such I am comfortable saying thank you to him for what he has given us as a club. And the six year deal he signed only two years back offered security to us as well as the player himself. It is the reason we were able to realise such a huge sum of money for him today.
He leaves the club in a far better position than it was in when he made his debut.
The kid has been a rock for us during the Treble Years, and it would have been nice to think of him as a one club man but some people want to see whether the grass really is greener … and you cannot hold that against them, not knowing how you’d feel in their shoes.
Tonight he leaves having done one major, final, service to the club … he has given us the facts and cast aside conspiracy theories and divisive nonsense. Nobody was conned. Nobody has sold out or been sold short or sold against their will.
A grown man made a grown up decision, and the club got the best deal from it that they could.
We owe him for that, as much as for anything he did in the colours.
Have a good career, Kieran.