NEW Hearts signing Danny Wilson has revealed how Tynecastle supporters blew him away at Anfield last year and convinced him he could not refuse the invitation to join the Edinburgh club.
The 21-year-old arrived last night on a six-month loan from Liverpool and could feature at Celtic Park this afternoon if international clearance is received in time. As a player who qualifies for the under-21 age group this season, the Scotland internationalist is eligible to join Hearts after the SPL relaxed the Edinburgh club’s signing restrictions.
Wilson is eager to revitalise his career after failing to impose himself on Liverpool’s first-team. He explained how he was taken aback by the passion of the Hearts fans during the Europa League play-off tie between the clubs earlier this season.
When the centre-back heard of the chance to move north and play regularly, he admitted he could not get to Edinburgh quickly enough.
“I was in the stand (at Anfield) and Hearts did very well that night, they were actually a bit unlucky,” he said. “They got a good result, 1-1 on the night, but obviously in terms of the tie it eventually put them out. They took a great crowd down to watch the match. I was watching and I thought, ‘what a great club that is’.
“Friends from Liverpool said to me they’d never seen anything like that before.
“I can’t wait to get started now. I need to play football and I’ve been told I’ll get the opportunity to come here and play. That’s the most important thing for me. Obviously I played at Rangers and did fairly well but I always keep in touch with the SPL and I watch a lot of football from up here. Once I heard Hearts were interested in taking me I was delighted and I just wanted to come up straight away.
“I’m at an age now where it’s important for me to be playing week in, week out. I feel I might be given the opportunity to do that here, so I’m looking to grab it with both hands.”
The Hearts manager John McGlynn, who will be without suspended captain Marius Zaliukas today against Celtic, will grant Wilson his debut at Parkhead if all the paperwork for the deal is completed on time. “I played in an under-21 game on Monday so I’m as fit as I can be at this present time,” Wilson told the Hearts website. “I’m just raring to go. I’m here and I’m ready to play. Whenever that is, I’ll be ready for it.”
Despite his relative youth, Wilson sampled the Champions League with Rangers after emerging from their youth academy in 2008. He joined Liverpool two years later for an initial £2million fee and has also amassed five full Scotland caps. He believes he can help, and learn from, what is a predominantly young squad at Hearts.
“I’m still 21 myself but I’ve managed to get these experiences throughout my career. I’ll try and pass things on but I can learn just as much from them as they can from me,” he continued.
“Tynecastle is a great stadium. I did score here for Rangers but it’s a tough place for any player to come and play. To be a Hearts player in that stadium must be great because the fans get right behind you.
“It’s better to have them with you than against you, I’d imagine. It’s a good ground and you can hear a lot of the shouts from the side. I’m hoping they’ll be more positive than they were last time I was here.”
Playing regularly for Hearts between now and the end of the season is the player’s primary aim, however his international ambitions remain strong and he believes he can impress the new Scotland manager Gordon Strachan.
“I hope so. If I do that then it means I’m doing well for Hearts,” said Wilson. “The two will go hand in hand. Hopefully I can get myself back in there, but first and foremost I need to get playing and playing well for Hearts. Anything over and above that is a bonus.”
Wilson recently spent loan spells at Blackpool and Bristol City and McGlynn explained his delight at luring one of Scotland’s brightest young prospects north of the Border. “Danny is a quality player and someone we know a lot about,” said the manager. “Even at such a young age, he brings a lot of experience and not only will he be a very good addition to our squad, he will be a good influence on the young players we have here.
“He has been playing regularly down south so fitness won’t be a problem and hopefully it won’t be long before we see him in a Hearts shirt.”