FOURTEEN years have passed since Celtic reached the Uefa Cup final, sparking a pilgrimage to Andalusia so vast that a new instrument, christened the ‘Seville calculator’, was required to document it. That isn’t quite enough water under the bridge, though, for Kieran Tierney to forgive his father Michael for not taking him.

Still aged just five, the young Tierney utterly idolised Martin O’Neill’s team, carried along by their exploits in shooting down the likes of Blackburn Rovers and Liverpool. Times have changed in European football as the Parkhead side again drop into the continent’s second competition but how Tierney would love this current Celtic crop to go on an extended run in this tournament, and give the supporters who left unhappy against Anderlecht on Tuesday night something to shout about in a big glamour tie.

“I am still raging at my dad about that,” said Tierney, “because he went and I didn’t! Everybody knows how good a run that was and what a special team it was. Growing up, they were all my heroes. But for us, we just have to concentrate on the next game and not get ahead of ourselves. We will be right up for the Europa League matches, as we are for every game. It is progress for us, because last year we didn’t get here, now we just need to make the most of it and play well.

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“You need to believe [you can go a long way], if you don’t believe there is no point being in it. So we will be going in positive. We want to give the fans a better night, here at Celtic Park anyway. We want to give them something to cheer about. That is what we want, what the fans want, what everybody at the club wants.”

Clubs of all shapes and sizes populate the last 32 of the Europa League – giants like Atletico Madrid, Champions League finalists two of the last three years, Arsenal and Napoli, or curiosities of the continental game like Ostersunds of Sweden, where former Hamilton boss Billy Reid is assistant manager, and far flung FC Sheriff of Moldova.

But each opponent comes with its own warning and Tierney, it should be remembered, has already tasted the unique, and occasionally underwhelming, atmosphere of matches in the continent’s second tier. Aged just 18, the full back played group stage matches against Fenerbahce, Molde, Ajax, gaining a European grounding which is another thing for the club’s supporters to be thankful to Ronny Deila for.

“There are some massive teams in the Europa League – it is a hard tournament,” said Tierney. “People think it is probably going to be easier than it will be. It really is tough. I played in it a few seasons ago under Ronny Deila, and you were playing against the likes of Fenerbahce and Ajax, really good teams. There are no easy games for sure.

“That was good for me though, the wee step up, then I got the platform to step up from Europa League football to Champions League football at a young age which was great. But for us it is about the team.

“But this will be another first for me, I have never played knockout football in European competitions, apart from Tuesday night in a way, which was a bit like knockout football as well. I don’t know who is in it, who we can get, seedings wise, but we will look forward to it. And prepare accordingly. It would be another great achievement for the club if we could get through.”

Having said that, Celtic must play better than they did against Anderlecht – exactly the kind of mid-range teams they could face in the Europa League – if they are to have any realistic hope of progression. Tierney wasn’t immune from the general malaise on Tuesday night – although he looked closer to his usual self when getting forward from a wing back berth during the second period – but he was typically honest in agreeing with the assertion that Anderlecht was the poorest of the six Champions League displays.

“That probably is the most disappointed we have been with the way we have played,” said Tierney. “Because we have shown that we can compete here against teams like Bayern Munich, the best teams. We are disappointed - especially for the fans who have given us everything again. But if you look at it, the fans have at least got one more European night to look forward to. That’s what matters really.

“As much as you try to put it out of your mind, that 3-0 buffer was there and you know it is there,” he said. “It is 3-1 on aggregate. We would have like to have played better but at the end of the day when we look back on it after Christmas it is still European football.

“It was kind of knock-out football between us and Anderlecht. And we won 3-1. It is the same kind of situation as against Astana. We won the first game comfortably then we know they are going to come out, throw everything at us and attack. Last season we didn’t get through, we came fourth in our Champions League group, and this year it is third so it is progress for sure, but I just don’t think we did ourselves any justice on Tuesday night.”