A letter from Jurgen Klinsmann helped secure a UK work permit for new Hearts signing Perry Kitchen, it was revealed today.
The USA national coach submitted a document recommending the midfielder for a move to Scotland, which was completed on Wednesday when he agreed a two-and-a-half-year contract at Tynecastle.
Kitchen’s three international caps are not sufficient to warrant a work permit under UK employment rules. Klinsmann was asked by Kitchen’s agent, Lyle Yorks, to endorse the 24-year-old and duly penned a letter to the British consulate in New York. Hearts also argued that the move should go ahead on the basis of “exceptional talent”. With Klinsmann’s backing, government officials approved Kitchen’s visa application, which he collected when he flew to New York earlier this week.
“I didn’t speak to Klinsmann but he put a letter in for the visa application,” revealed Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson. “He was speaking about the player, what he thought of him. He was very complimentary of the player but also about the club he was coming to. That was pleasing. His agent asked for the national team manager to try and help. For these visa applications, you need references from different people. He [the agent] managed to get one from Klinsmann, speaking about the player. That was decent of him. He wants his players to play in Europe to get that experience. Perry is desperate to progress into the national team and become sustained. It gives him a good opportunity to do that.”
Kitchen is expected to make his Hearts debut tomorrow at Dundee, most likely from the bench. He hasn’t managed a competitive outing since November 8 last year, when he played for former club DC United. Despite the long lay-off, Neilson insisted the player is in good physical shape, saying: “He’ll be involved in the squad on Saturday. He’s maybe a few weeks away from starting a game. He’s been away on a training camp for a month with the national team but, for the last two weeks, he’s been back and forward trying to get his visa sorted out.”