Kieran Tierney was the toast of Arsenal before and after their win over West Bromwich Albion as he warmed up in a T-shirt and shorts in freezing conditions then scored a stunning opening goal.
The 23-year-old was trending on social media as TV talk show host Piers Morgan hailed the former Celtic defender for becoming one of his favourite players.
Former Arsenal centre-half Martin Keown tipped him as a future Arsenal captain.
Manager Mikel Arteta suggested: “He’s got something special in his blood.”
The Scotland defender himself said of the wintery conditions that had put the game in doubt ahead of kick-off: “It is what it is.”
Following the 4-0 win at the Hawthorns that lifted Arsenal to 11th in the Premier League, Tierney told Arsenal TV: “Playing in Scotland for my full career, you’re used to that. A bit of cold weather hurts nobody.”
Tierney, restored to left-back after having played in a three-man central defence at times this season, turned West Brom’s Darnell Furlong inside out before cutting into the penalty box and curling a right-foot drive into the far corner.
“The boys are calling it a cross,” he said. “I’ll need to watch it back. Obviously I’m delighted with the goal – I don’t score many.”
Although it is his first goal for Arsenal this season – and second since signing for £25m from Celtic in summer 2019 – the 23-year-old is becoming increasingly influential. The 15 chances he has created in the Premier League since the start of December are more than any other defender.
Indeed, it was his cross that gave Alexandre Lacazette a simple tap-in for the striker’s second goal of the game to complete the scoring.
There were 20 passes in the build-up to Tierney’s opener and, since Arteta took charge in December 2019, Arsenal have scored more Premier League goals following a sequence of 20-plus passes than any other side.
It is an example of the hard work done on the training field that Tierney insisted they needed to end the sticky spell of four games without a win in early December, during which he defended the under-pressure manager and insisted the blame lay with the players.
Arteta was quick to point to the example shown by the full-back as his team responded by completing a third successive win – their first such run this season.
“We’re all wearing snoods, gloves and hats – he just goes out in his shorts and T-shirt,” said the Spaniard who experienced Scotland’s weather himself during his spell with Rangers. “It’s not like he’s acting, believe me. He’s very comfortable like that.
“From the moment I joined this club and he went through this shoulder injury, I saw a player with enormous talent with the perfect attitude and commitment. He is a joy to work with and I’m so happy for him with the goal he scored and everything he’s put in to be better every day.”
Arteta admitted that Tierney had initially had “some issues” adapting to life in London after leaving Scotland, but his impact is such that former captain Keown has suggested the Spaniard should “build around him”.
“Right from the beginning, I could see there is a determination about him,” Keown told BT Sport. “He is the right type that you need, that personality and character – really taking the game to the opposition now he’s playing in his preferred position at left-back.
“He’s definitely a throw-back. Perhaps a captain in the making. They tell me in training they have to tell him to calm down because he’s tackling ferociously. I really like that attitude he brings. He is a good defender and can do both parts of the game really well.
“He warmed up in a T-shirt and scored a wonderful goal in the snow. He’s in a hurry to make his mark at Arsenal and, boy, he’s done it.”