Hearts striker Steven MacLean explains why he loves winding up opponents
Steven MacLean turned 37 last month but his on-field taunting is worthy of someone half his age. It shows no sign of letting up, either.
The Hearts striker wound up the Aberdeen fans and their manager Derek McInnes during the midweek Betfred Cup win and seemed to revel in doing so.
He screamed in the face of McInnes, his former Rangers team-mate who got in the way of him retrieving a ball which bounced out of play in the first half. After scoring Hearts’ first equaliser, MacLean then stood in front of the Aberdeen support with his arms outstretched as if to say: ‘Bring on the abuse.’ It is all simply part of the forward’s make-up.
“Me and Del have had a couple of run-ins before and we actually had a chat at half-time,” he smiled. “I got him in a headlock going up the tunnel and we were having a laugh. He just said what he was meaning and I told him I wasn’t bothered about it. I was just having a laugh.
“I remember it happened in the derby last year, with Lewis Stevenson and somebody else. For 90 minutes you do what you need to do and, at the end of the game, you shake hands and get on with it. I like to get myself going and during the game it helps get everyone else going as well. It is good for spectators and you guys as well. It keeps you all entertained.
“I remember a semi-final when I was at St Johnstone, it was like a running commentary. Del was at the side and I was running past him and when I ran back again I think we were still screaming at each other but we dropped each other a text afterwards. I knew him from playing with him at Rangers. Well, we didn’t play together, we were in the gym together because the two of us were injured all the time! But it was good craic.”
As for the goal celebration, he said: “I don’t know why I did it to be honest. It seemed like a good idea.”
MacLean has endured enough personal stick in his career to know it works both ways. He can take it and is perfectly justified in dishing it out at the same time. Hence his enjoyment at scoring his first goal of the season against a club he previously played for on loan.
“It was good but I have had stick most places I have been,” he said. “It is fine by me and I don’t really mind it. It is harder for younger players or players who aren’t as experienced but they have just got to work through it as well.
“It happens to us all at some time in our career so we all just have to work through it. Football is easy when it is all going well and everything is rosy but I think you find out a person’s true character when you have to come out fighting. It is what it is for me.”