THE only debate to be had now about Kieran Tierney isn't whether he’s the real deal or not but how far back do we need to go to name the last Scottish player who was as good as the Celtic man is at the age of 20.

This is subjective more than scientific of course; however, those of us who have watched this still young footballer progress from a teenager who couldn’t last 90 minutes to the youngest captain of his club, there is little point in playing down what the lad from Motherwell can achieve.

So, for a bit of fun, who is he comparable to?

Read more: 40 years on, Kenny Dalglish from Celtic to Liverpool is the greatest move of all

Charlie Miller’s career did not go the way it should have hoped but the former Rangers midfielder was outstanding at the age Tierney is now. So, too, Duncan Ferguson, Eoin Jess, Barry Ferguson, John Collins, Paul McStay and Charlie Nicholas.

Apart from Duncan Ferguson, the above mentioned were voted Young Player of the Year and went on to do well in the game, some more than others, and what can’t be denied was that as they came out of their teens they really looked the part.

For me, of all the names on that list only McStay was as good at 20-years-old as Tierney who rather fittingly was discovered by Paul’s dad John who sadly passed away recently.

Every club in the Premier League is watching him. But they are all going to be disappointed for a few years because while a move to Arsenal, and remember that was a possibility before Brendan Rodgers came in, would be hard to turn away, this is someone living a dream.

The badge thumping isn’t a gimmick. It comes from the heart. Tierney has the attitude, professionalism, skill, temperament, leadership and, if we go by Tuesday night’s thumping of Kilmarnock, a shot on him Robert Carlos would be proud of.

Read more: 40 years on, Kenny Dalglish from Celtic to Liverpool is the greatest move of all

He doesn’t drink, he hangs about with his pals from school and in the last 12 months has matured considerable when asked to fulfil his media duties as he did after the Kilmarnock Betfred Cup match when it was put to him that Rodgers believed the captain for the night would one day hold the position permanently when Scott Brown eventually steps aside.

“That means everything,” said Tierney. “The manager has been great with me from the first day he’s come in. To hear him say that is just brilliant for me. I just need to keep level-headed and take everything as it comes. I’ll work hard every single day in training, as always.

“It was a real honour for me to captain the team. Broony was obviously suspended for the game but I felt the whole team did well.

“From the first whistle until the last, everyone was great. But I think if you asked every Celtic fan in the world ‘would you like to captain the team?’ then I think they’d all say they would. The obvious answer is yes.

“I didn’t ever captain youth teams or anything like that so it’s new to me.

"The first time I really did it was the pre-season game down in Sunderland. That meant a lot, it definitely was a huge honour just walking the team out. I then did my speech in the huddle which was unbelievable.

Read more: 40 years on, Kenny Dalglish from Celtic to Liverpool is the greatest move of all

“It now done it in a competitive game too and hopefully it’s not the last time. This is a historic club that’s had some great, great captains. Obviously right now is one of the greatest in Scott Brown. I look up to him in every single way and he helps me on and off the pitch every day. He’s a total leader.”

And now Tierney has added spectacular goals to his repertoire. He’s never going to be a Tommy Gemmell, the great man was a one-off, but when you can hit the ball with the same force as the Lion and it ends up in the top corner, from 40 yards as he did on Tuesday, then it’s not a bad string to add to his bow.

“When you’re in the centre of the park it’s easier to get shots away with your left foot” he said. “I had a bit of space and just thought to myself ‘why not?’ It’s definitely the best goal I’ve ever scored.

“I just felt like I’d hit it sweet – in fact I didn’t even feel it connecting with my foot at all! Although, I hadn’t ever done it before so I didn’t know how it felt to strike a ball like that before. But I was buzzing to get it.”

Tierney is without question the best to come out of Celtic’s academy for an age but there are others emerging who have a chance.

Right back Anthony Ralston is 18 but looks like a senior player, Calvin Miller is a fine left-back in his own right and there is Jack Aitchison and Michael Johnston who didn’t feature the other night.

“I rate them all very highly and so does the manager,” said the player who should act as their inspiration.

“You see what they what they did when they came in, we looked like a team that had played lots of games together. That’s what you need as a young boy here. I’m there to help any of them if they need it.”

There is no better example at Celtic or anywhere else.

Listen to the Herald Sport podcast: We discuss Kieran Tierney's Celtic future, Rangers battering Dunfermline and ponder a Motherwell cup victory.

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