Arnaud Djoum feels Hearts will benefit from the extra confidence he has gained since winning the Africa Cup of Nations with Cameroon.
Following a month away with his country at the tournament in Gabon, the midfielder returned to Edinburgh last Thursday and came on for his club as a second-half sub against Hibs in Sunday’s goalless Scottish Cup fifth-round tie at Tynecastle.
Despite being unable to make much of an impression on a frenetic Edinburgh derby, Djoum’s belief levels are soaring after the crowning moment of his career to date.
“It is the best moment, the biggest achievement,” he said. “I never expected to win a cup like this so I’m very happy. I have that experience behind me now. When you achieve that, to win such a big trophy, you get more confidence in yourself. I played in the final so that was a big boost personally. I will try to take this with me and help the team.”
After helping his country defeat Egypt in the AFCON final a week past Sunday, Djoum was proud to go back to Yaounde, Cameroon’s capital city, to show off the trophy to jubilant supporters. “The celebrations were amazing,” he said. “We stayed in Gabon the first night to make party with the people there. Then we got back to Cameroon and the people there were crazy. We had a tour of the city and enjoyed it with them. It was a nice experience. I have to say thanks to the fans.”
Djoum took it easy in terms of alcohol consumption in the aftermath of his big moment as he knew he had to be in peak condition upon his return to his club last week. “I’m not used to drink,” he said. “I take one glass of wine. I’m not someone who drinks a lot. Maybe I’ll have more when the season is over, but I knew I needed to get back to help Hearts. We had two days over there [in Cameroon], to have a party and enjoy it with the people. I did that.
“It would have been nice to have more time to celebrate, but I am a professional footballer and I have a contract here so it’s important I get back as soon as possible. Maybe later there will be time to party more and celebrate the moment. I want to enjoy it but I have to focus on Hearts.”
Djoum, who headed to Africa at the start of January, returned to Riccarton last week to find nine new team-mates after a radical winter transfer window at Hearts. “There are lot of new faces here and I’m still getting to know them,” he said. “They look like good guys with a good mentality. In one week, I’ll know them all.”