Kieran Tierney has singled out “proper leader” David Luiz for helping to steer Arsenal out of their poor form earlier in the season.
The Gunners looked destined for a campaign to forget when Unai Emery was sacked in December following a run of one win from nine games in all competitions.
Emery was replaced by Mikel Arteta and, despite only managing to finish eighth in the Premier League, the Spaniard delivered the FA Cup less than eight months into his reign.
During that time Arteta kept faith in Luiz despite a number of high-profile errors, culminating in an evening to forget at Manchester City where he was subbed on, made an error for a goal, conceded a penalty and was sent off all in the space of 25 minutes.
A lot of Arsenal fans were then up in arms when the 33-year-old signed a new one-year contract just days later.
But Tierney, who signed for Arsenal on August 8, 2019 – the same day as Luiz – was full of praise for the former Chelsea man’s influence in the Emirates Stadium dressing room.
“He is a legend, the biggest legend ever and I love him,” Tierney told the Open Goal Podcast.
“He is so good with all the young boys, everybody loves him. He is a proper leader, even if he hasn’t got the armband he still leads.
“I signed the same day as David Luiz. He is a winner, a born winner. He was saying to me during the season when we were doing bad ‘we are going to win silverware this season, believe me’.
“He is about motivational speeches and all that, when he talks everybody listens.”
Tierney also revealed that Luiz was keen to take the pressure off his shoulders as he looked to establish himself in the Arsenal side, having been injured when he joined from Celtic.
“He said to me one game when I hadn’t had my best game,” added Tierney.
“We drew, we should have been wining as it was a home game, he was like ‘don’t worry, I’m the big name and I will take the pressure’.
“I was just sitting there, one of my first games it all went wrong, the fans were on us and we weren’t doing well.
“He just went: ‘don’t worry about it, you just keep playing your football and I will take the heat’.”
Tierney made the move south having come through the ranks at Celtic, where he went on to win four league titles in a row.
But the 23-year-old is left with regret over how his departure from the club he supports was received by fans.
“The interest (from Arsenal) was there from the start of the window,” he said.
This is coming from the bottom of my heart! I don’t know how to even begin to put the last 15 years of my life into words… what you as fans have given me and my family I cannot repay you in any way possible and for that I am sorry. From the age of 7 I was lucky enough to play for the club I love and will continue to love till the day I die no matter what happens. Every single second of my Celtic career was a dream and I gave my all every single time I stepped onto that pitch, it’s honestly the least I could do for everyone involved at the club. There is to many people to thank individually so I don’t even know where to begin. Every single coach and staff member who has helped me on my way to getting where I am today I am so grateful for all the hours help you put into me making me a better player and a better person. My team mates have been the best I could possibly have asked for what a bunch of legends man who I’ll be supporting untill the end. Where can I start with the fans? I tried my best to represent you every time I went onto that pitch. The relationship we had together and the memories we created and history we made was incredible.. I will cherish every single second of it. I hope we can continue to have a relationship although I understand that will be never for some people which is heartbreaking for me but I understand the emotions surrounding this situation. It has been the hardest day or two of my life and I really appreciate every single message of support from you all. This was not easy in any way shape or form. To end id like to mention the special relationship I had with the ultras who I have grown up with from BHOYS and Green Brigade.. the atmosphere yous create to help the team is massive and it helped me so much over the last few years.. I thank u so much for these times together what we have achieved as a club the last few years isn’t possible without you and all the fans. This is not nearly enough of what I am feeling but I literally cannot put into words with the emotion I’m feeling towards you all but I hope I showed you every game that I was lucky enough to play. God bless🙏🏻💚 @celticfc
A post shared by Kieran Tierney (@kierantierney) on Aug 8, 2019 at 11:06am PDT
“I wasn’t pressuring my agent to make it happen. In the end they just all agreed they (Celtic) were getting £25million for a player who cost them nothing.
“It was just sad the way it ended, seeing people turning.
“The weeks before I had seen that Arsenal had had bids and people were saying ‘you’re a rat if you go here’, ‘you’re never a Celtic fan’ and it was breaking my heart reading it.
“I had thousands (of messages). Tweets with threats, spray paint on the walls saying ‘Judas’ and all sorts.”