Marcus Godinho glad to follow Dario Zanatta’s Hearts footsteps

Marcus Godinho has impressed at right-back. Pic: SNS

Marcus Godinho has impressed at right-back. Pic: SNS

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Given his distinctive surname, Marcus Godinho was never likely to ride under the radar for too long after arriving at Hearts last month. The 19-year-old Canadian, however, has ensured in his opening glimpses that it is not just his name he is renowned for.

Anyone attending any of Hearts’ four pre-season friendlies in Fife over the last three weeks will have noted the eye-catching performances of the little right-back. While deriving anything of substance from such matches can be a notoriously fraught business, it seems pretty clear from his outings against TNS, Aberdeen, Cowdenbeath and Dundermline that Godinho isn’t lacking in technique or confidence.

Having followed his Canada Under-20 colleague Dario Zanatta in making the move to Edinburgh, the Toronto boy has clear ambitions after signing a two-year-deal at Hearts. “I think I’ve been brought in primarily as an under-20 player, but I don’t want to stay there,” he told the Evening News. “My goal is to make it into the first team as soon as possible. The faster I get in, the better.”

Godinho, who was previously with Canadian third-tier side Toronto FC II, has clearly been inspired by how quickly Zanatta, the former Vancouver Whitecaps attacker, has got a foot in the door at Hearts. Indeed, it was the sight of his compatriot getting first-team recognition within months of arriving in Edinburgh last summer that first prompted the ambitious right-back to seek a move to Tynecastle.

“I had a decent amount of time with Toronto back home and I felt it was time to move on,” he explained. “I knew Dario was over here and doing well, so I got in touch with his agent and he managed to open up a trial for me at Hearts. I feel we have a similar style, so I thought I’d have a good chance of fitting in at Hearts if Dario did.

“I knew other boys in Europe, but I already had a relationship with Dario’s agent because he has a lot of players at Toronto, so he was the person I went to. I had heard great things about Scottish football before I came and then when I came for the trial in April I really enjoyed it.

“I stayed with Dario in his digs and he took me into Edinburgh a couple of times – it’s beautiful. I had a really good chat with him when I was over to find out what it was like and how he was doing. He was really enjoying it and said many good things about Hearts.

“It was the first trial I had and I really enjoyed it and the coaches liked me, so I thought ‘yeah, I’ll give it a try’ and didn’t bother pursuing anything else. I felt it would make the transition easier coming here because I already had a friend here. It’s worked out really well for Dario because he’s already involved in the first team, and that’s what I’m hoping for. What he’s done so far is great and it’s motivational for me because if he can get in, I believe I can as well.

“I’ve loved it so far – it’s working out well. Pre-season’s been great – I’ve been doing more than I was doing back home. My ambition is to get into the first team as soon as possible and get as many minutes as possible, and take it from there.”

If Godinho lives up to his early promise, then Hearts can consider themselves to have a well-oiled conveyor belt of young right-backs, with academy graduates Callum Paterson, 21, and Liam Smith, 20, currently ahead of him in the pecking order. “Hearts are a club trying to push young guys through, which is really good for me,” said Godinho. “When you see young right-backs like Callum and Liam getting their chance, that inspires you. Callum’s a great player – he’s really physical and fast with a great delivery. I feel like I’m learning a lot from just watching him. Liam had a really good game on Thursday [against Infonet] so all of that is motivational to me. It’s good for Hearts to have three young right-backs all hungry to do well.”