RYAN STEVENSON has revealed he never expected a second chance at Hearts after walking out on the club.
However, having returned to Tynecastle on a three-year contract, he is eager for supporters to keep faith in him.
The midfielder rejoined Hearts on transfer deadline day from Ipswich Town, the club he joined after going on strike at Riccarton last December over late payment of wages. He believed he had burned all bridges but, in a surprise move, accepted an offer to come back to Hearts after talks with Motherwell, and he made a second debut for the Jambos in Sunday’s defeat to Dundee.
“I know a lot of people probably wouldn’t have expected to see me back here,” Stevenson told the club website. “If I am being honest, I wouldn’t have thought that I’d be back, given the way things ended.
“I knew there would be an uproar on Sunday about me coming back and that it might be a difficult day, but I think in the main the reception was positive. I just hope the fans stick with me. I’ve signed a long-term deal and I think they know I’ll give everything for the jersey.
“It wasn’t the easiest decision to come back because I did think about the reaction I would get. But as soon as I knew there was a chance of a deal there was only one place I wanted to go.
“I had other places to go but I felt this was a great place to play and I want to make this time count.”
Stevenson explained that there is little difference between the standard of football in the SPL and that of the English Champion- ship, where he played with Ipswich.
“The football down there was good. We were going to different grounds every week and it was a great place to be at,” he said. “Ipswich are a club with a proud history and a lot of tradition but standard-wise the Championship is no better than the SPL.
“A lot of people get the wool pulled over their eyes because it is England.
“Hearts play a lot of good football. We went to Anfield and gave Liverpool a game and they are one of the top teams in the Premiership.
“I know it is hard to keep up that level all season but we showed there are good teams in the SPL.”