Kieran Tierney admits the injury struggles he has endured at Arsenal have been “the toughest time of my life”, with the Scot having taken in a forgettable debut campaign at the Emirates Stadium.
The highly-rated left-back was acquired by the Gunners from Celtic in the summer of 2019.
He arrived in north London amid much fanfare, but also nursing a knock.
That delayed his introduction to life with Arsenal, with his debut made in a Carabao Cup clash with Nottingham Forest on September 24, 2019.
He did not make his Premier League bow until October 27, with Tierney seeing only 11 appearances in total before a dislocated shoulder sent him back to the treatment table.
The 22-year-old admits to having experienced a few dark days over recent months, with any return to action now being delayed by the postponement of all competitive football during the coronavirus outbreak.
Tierney told SPORTbible of his long road to recovery: “The night at West Ham away was a hard night for me. I knew I had dislocated my shoulder in the first 10, 15 minutes and straight away you know what you’ve done.
“Then another 10 minutes, I did the same kind of thing. I landed differently. It was a set piece and my arm just went into a position that wasn’t comfortable at all and dislocated.
“It was heartbreaking because in my head I knew I needed an operation. Three times in 30 minutes, nobody’s shoulder should be going like that.
“So in my head, I was like ‘that’s me out for another few months’. You know that and you know the devastation straight away. You can see it on my face.
“Being injured at the start of my Arsenal career was hard. Mentally, it was probably the toughest time of my life.”
Tierney feels he is stronger physically and mentally for the experiences he has gone through since leaving his comfort zone in Glasgow.
He added: “Keeping myself motivated and energised, for me, is quite easy because I’ve got great people around me. I’ve got my family, my friends and everybody I need.
“I will go work hard every single day for myself, for the club, for my family.
“The mental side of the game is probably the most important. Everybody loves going out and playing football but to be mentally tough and deal with all these obstacles and people throw at you, it’s the hardest part. But when you get to the other side, it’s the most rewarding.”