RYAN McGOWAN today relived an “unbelievable” Edinburgh derby victory for Hearts and said memories of his first goal for the club will live with him until his dying day.
The Australian defender headed the opener from close range in yesterday’s 3-1 win before embarking on some ecstatic celebrations in front of the travelling support at Easter Road.
Although Marius Zaliukas’ own goal gifted Hibs an equaliser, further strikes from Andy Webster and Rudi Skacel ensured Hearts began the New Year victoriously.
McGowan spent previous derbies standing beside supporters in the away end at Easter Road. He admitted giving the fans cause to celebrate by scoring himself was an overwhelming feeling.
“It was just unbelievable. To win at Easter Road is a special thing, but to get on the scoresheet with such a screamer is even better,” he joked.
“Before the game (Hearts coach Alberto) Cabral had told me to peel off at the back post. Webby got up for it, then the keeper spilled it. It was probably going in but I was making sure I was getting my head to it and then afterwards it was just unbelievable. I can’t explain it and it is something that will stay with me forever.”
McGowan feels Hearts deserved their success and explained how he was inundated with congratulatory messages at full-time. “I’ve been in the crowd a couple of times at Easter Road and I know how much the fans love it,” he told the Hearts website. “My phone was red hot with people from back home and friends and family over here.
“I can’t think of a better way to score my first goal. We deserved the win, I think. We scored all the goals, to be fair.
“Aside from that it was a good team performance. We won all of our battles and everyone played well.”
Paulo Sergio, the Hearts manager, was eager for his players to take credit for yesterday’s win. The Tynecastle side are now nine games without defeat against Hibs.
“We are very happy,” said Sergio.
“This was the players’ victory. I’m very happy to see the happiness of supporters and the great support they give to us. It’s a perfect day for me.
“Credit to the players, this is just for them. I want all the good words for them, they deserve it more than anyone.”
Hearts are preparing to offload some of their more experienced players as part of a necessary cost-cutting exercise. Sergio admitted the future is unclear.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen in January. I know if we have a good proposition to sell, what I believe is we have to sell,” he said.
“I know our players have other clubs looking at them because they are playing well. But I don’t know what’s going to happen. Let’s wait.
“I believe we’re going to have a hard January with all those movements.”
Despite the uncertainty, Sergio stressed his genuine affection for Hearts and their supporters and pledged to continue working with them.
“I’m a fighter and our supporters can trust that since I arrived here I never thought about myself.
“I love the club, I feel I’m a Jambo like them and I want to do what I can do for the best for Hearts.”