Kyle Lafferty today admitted that he did renege on his word to speak to Hibs head coach Neil Lennon before committing to Hearts – but he has no regrets as he reiterated how hard the Tynecastle club worked to get him.
Lennon said last week that Lafferty had promised he would speak with Lennon before putting pen to paper anywhere else. The Northern Irish international had spent four days talking to Hearts with his agent Martin Lyon.
Meanwhile, advisor and former Manchester United winger Keith Gillespie was at Hibs’ East Mains training base with Lennon, awaiting Lafferty’s arrival for talks that subsequently never took place.
Lennon didn’t expect an apology from the 29-year-old, but did say he felt it was “harsh” on Gillespie and his colleagues.
Lafferty, however, doesn’t appear to be losing any sleep over the situation. “I read what Neil Lennon said,” he said following Hearts’ 4-1 friendly win over Linfield at Windsor Park on Saturday. “I did say that I would speak to him. Did I go back on my word? Then obviously I did.
“I spoke to Lenny on the Thursday night but I had been speaking to Hearts for four days from 10am to 6pm trying to sort out a contract and it is difficult to go elsewhere because the club has done a lot to get me here and I wanted to come to Hearts.
“It is just one of those things – it’s football. I am a Hearts player and I am glad I came here.
“Things were said in the media, some of which was and wasn’t true. It was a difficult time in terms of wanting to speak to people.
“I showed my respect to Hearts because they busted a gut to get me. I came back from my holidays on the Thursday and they wanted to meet me on the Friday.
“They moved things around to get me in the door early to speak to them and I had to show some respect to listen to them.”
His team-mates have since had to listen to Lafferty sing in what has become a traditional initiation process for new players.
Strike partner Esmael Goncealves didn’t think much of Lafferty’s rendition of “I’ll Tell Me Ma”, but believes they can become an effective duo on and off the pitch, with winger Jamie Walker providing ammunition and goals from slightly deeper.
Lafferty agrees with him on both fronts. “Isma doesn’t understand I’ll Tell Me Ma for a start!” he laughed. “Singing is not my strongest point and my dancing is slightly better.
“Isma is a good player and I did not know much about him or Jamie but I have seen them in training and the two of them are guys that I want to get on well with and strike up a good partnership.”
The former Rangers front man also revealed that he was left slightly baffled at how his team-mates spent their time away from the tfootball pitch this week.
“On my second day with the lads I was invited to play a game of Uno rather than poker,” he explained. “I don’t know what kind of club I have joined playing Uno instead of poker!
“We have got an Uno school going on here and I feel like I am 12-years-old talking about it!
“We have our things that we do off the park. I am excited to play alongside these guys and I am sure we can score the goals that puts Hearts in a comfortable position.
It’s a close-knit group and there are exciting times ahead for us.”