THE first time Kieran Tierney appeared on television just so happened to be on one of the worst days of Neil Lennon’s life.

It was in April 2010, the Northern Irishman was interim manager after Tony Mowbray’s sacking, and his team had a chance to redeem themselves slightly by winning the Scottish Cup. Firstly they had to beat Ross County from the Championship in the semi-final.

The Dingwall outfit won 2-0. They were the better side. After the game, Lennon admitted that he had no idea whether he would get the job but left the players in no doubt what he thought about them.

Cut to a BBC reporter outside of Hampden who stopped a less than amused Celtic fan, a Michael Tierney, who was hardly alone when he said: “That’s the worst Celtic team I have ever seen.”

He then pointed to the wee guy beside him, his son. and claimed: “This is the future.”

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Nine years later, that 12-year-old has nine winners’ medals, played almost 170 times for the club and is well on his way to becoming a modern-day legend. As is the man who for the second time is interim manager.

Things have change. Just a bit. Celtic are on eight in a row and a third Treble is 90 minutes away. All within a decade of a team with Robbie Keane in it being outplayed by Ross County.

This might be Lennon’s last game even if Celtic beat Hearts. Indeed, it’s looking increasingly likely that there will be a change in the summer. No matter what is to come, Tierney wants Lennon to receive the praise he deserves after being parachuted back into home base at the end of February.

Tierney said: “He’s been great for us since he came in. He’s steadied us when we needed it. That has been so important, it has been so crucial for us. We wouldn’t have won the league or been in this position without him.

“As soon as he came in was two tough games with Hearts away and those games could have changed our season. For him to come in and do that so quickly and have an impact on us every day in training was massive for us.

“For me, I’m really enjoying it. I may be playing through pain but I’m still playing with a smile on my face and enjoying every minute and learning from him. I have had meetings with him as well which I’m learning from.

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“The manager knows how to win as he’s been here before as both a player and a manager. So, for us to have that faith in him as we know he’s been here and done it.

“He knows what he’s talking about and that’s a big thing which gives all of the players’ confidence. Boys like Scott Broon, Mikael Lustig and James Forrest have all worked under him before so that also helped the transition for everybody.”

That day against Ross County was not a good one for Celtic and it wasn’t all that long ago.

Tierney knows bad times, at least as a young supporter, which is one of the reasons he intends to enjoy these good days..

It also helps that he’s grounded even if he is going for a tenth winner’s medal as a Celtic player if the cup final goes to form and Hearts are defeated.

Tierney said: “It would be great but it’s ‘if we win.’ We need to concentrate on that. If it all goes well then we can talk about that after it.

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“It’s crazy and I’ve said it before but you dream about playing for Celtic. No team has been in a position where they’ve done a double Treble and we’ve won two trophies this season with the chance to win one more.

“We’ll probably never have the chance to do again. I’m really grateful to be where I am and I don’t take anything for granted at this club.

“You always want to achieve in football the most you can and winning trophies here is what I’ve always wanted to do. While I’m doing that just now then I’m happy.

“That feeling hasn’t gone away. It isn’t any less because I’ve done it before. Every trophy feels better than the last one. If you work hard all season for a trophy and get one then it feels so sweet and I want to do that against next season.”

Tierney will be back for the Champions League qualifiers following an operation on his double hernia, a procedure which might well be a result of him playing so many games. He’s 22 in June and could do with a rest before it all begins again before we know it.

The left-back said: “Most people will say I’ve played too many games. But there are lots of people who haven’t played 170 games who’ve ended up with double hernias. You can’t just blame it on a lot of games. Maybe it’s a factor.

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“But all the games I’ve played I’ve felt great. I’ve not been struggling with injury. But obviously since this it’s been a bit sore. I’ve felt good over 170 games, so it’s maybe unfair to blame it on playing so much. Maybe it’s different surfaces, different grounds. You never know.

“I push myself for every single game, I want to play every game. This is another massive game. But the team comes first — if I’m not available, I’m not available. I’ll still be 100 per cent behind the team.

“I’d be gutted. But as long as Celtic win, that’s the main thing. All that matters to me is that Celtic win on Saturday, whether I’m playing or not.”

Nine years on from his television debut, he was back on social media yesterday. The Celtic team were out for dinner. Their names went into a hat. Tierney’s was pulled out and had to pay the bill which came to over a grand.

“If you asked me if the pain of the dinner was sorer than my injury then I’d have to say it isn’t. It was a fix, it was horrible.”

Ach he can pay. After all, his dad was right. The wean was the future.