The word “Judas” was spray-painted on a wall near Kieran Tierney’s house when he left Celtic for Arsenal.
The clown responsible might just have been a deranged individual who took to extremes his anger that a Celtic player should dare better himself by going to a bigger league for probably four times the wages.
But he wasn’t alone in his condemnation of Tierney.
The cesspit Twitter can be gave dozens, maybe even hundreds, the opportunity to spit their venom.
They wanted the world to know, or maybe their 23 followers, how much of a ‘Cellic’ man they were by piling the abuse on a young man who had just turned 22.
For some reason, we tend to think football players are immune to the criticism they receive. The attitude is, “they’re on 80 grand a week, so they can handle it”.
First things first, only a tiny minority are on telephone number salaries. Take out Celtic, Rangers, Hearts, Hibs and Aberdeen and I doubt if many of the others are paying more than £1000 a week on average.
But even someone on Tierney’s money gets stung by the abuse, as he admitted in a couple of interviews this week.
If he was the type to live in an ivory tower counting his cash, maybe it would be water off a duck’s back but he happens to be an ordinary boy from a down- to-earth background and he’s not too big to deny he was hurt by such a large section of the Celtic support turning on him.
No wonder. He gave Celtic everything he had in his four years as a first-team player.
If he’d been Kieran Tierney the joiner, he might be in that standing section in the corner at Parkhead every couple of weeks giving it big licks. He is one of their own but was given the opportunity to make his family financially secure for life and stretch himself career-wise and that was too much for some of his fellow fans to take.
They seem to think it should be Celtic Forever. In Tierney’s heart it will be, no matter where his career takes him. Don’t forget this is the boy who got his face smashed in the 2017 Scottish Cup Final against Aberdeen and was carted off to hospital, only to get off the trolley and get a lift back to Hampden to run through the departing Dons fans and up the steps to collect his winner’s medal.
a group of people playing a game of football© SNS Group
Tierney played just about every minute of every game in Celtic’s invincible season and ended up paying the price with a pelvic injury that could have been career-threatening.
He said this week: “I gave everything I could and in the end I did myself in with injuries. I’d do it all again, every bit of it.
“I had hernias and fluid everywhere around the area. But I kept playing and playing. I couldn’t get out of bed. I couldn’t walk but I was still trying to play.
“I was taking injections every game, two of them and painkillers. I was done. I had osteitis pubis and it’s a bad thing.
“Jonny Hayes said to me, ‘My mates have retired with this, it’s really bad’.
“Tom Rogic had similar problems, he said, ‘What are you doing, ya idiot? Tell them you can’t play. This is bad’. But I said, ‘I need to play, I need to play’.”
That was the level of commitment Tierney gave Celtic. And the fans loved him for it until the day he left.
Now he’s apprehensive about going back as a fan. Any ‘supporter’ who contributed to Tierney feeling that way should be taking a long, hard look at himself or herself this morning.
They’ve got previous, of course. Brendan Rodgers is a pariah in the eyes of many because he, too, left Parkhead for the Premier League.
The circumstances of the manager’s departure to Leicester were different in the sense he was accused of leaving Celtic in the lurch in the February of a season when Eight In A Row was still in doubt.
That left a sour taste but should his achievements be airbrushed from history? Not a chance. Rodgers was an unqualified success. Had he left at the end of the season, there would have been less vitriol.
But Tierney didn’t deserve a single word of abuse. Celtic got £25million for him and had they not accepted Arsenal’s money, the player wouldn’t have been stamping his heels like Moussa Dembele did when it looked like Peter Lawwell wasn’t going to take Lyon’s offer in 2018.
Celtic survived the departure of Dembele, Rodgers and Tierney. No individual is bigger than the club and all that.
But only one of the three really wants to come back as a punter, singing and cheering as the ball hits the back of the net. If Tierney feels he can’t do that, shame on those who made him feel that way.