Alan Forrest exclusive: New Hearts signing winger outlines goals for the season after flying start

One of the reasons Hearts endeavoured to bring Alan Forrest to the club from Livingston this summer was speed. The winger has shown already that he does not hang about.

Forrest was one of the first new signings to take on the initiation ceremony ritual in front of his teammates in Spain. He scored twice on his debut against FC Europa on the same trip and then bagged another goal a few minutes after coming off the bench in the 62nd minute in the 7-0 demolition of East Fife on Tuesday. It’s been a quick and productive start to life at Hearts for the 25-year-old livewire forward, who is already feeling at home.

Erasure’s 1988 hit A Little Respect was the tune he belted out in front of the squad in Spain. Not that he needs respect from players who have faced him in Scotland’s top flight over the past two years and know all about the electric qualities he possesses. Nevertheless, Forrest was happy enough to break the ice on his first night in Malaga.

“I thought I was getting away with it and then I heard the tap of the glass and knew I had to sing that night,” he told the Edinburgh Evening News. “I suppose it was good getting it done and getting it out the way. It went down well. There were a few other boys who were really good as well. It was a good laugh for everyone as well.

“The lads have all been very welcoming. It was good that we all went away to Spain for a week right at the start, which gave me a chance to get to know everybody a bit better. Everybody has been really good with me.

“I played with a couple of the lads at Livingston, but I didn’t really know many of the Hearts squad that well. But since I’ve come in I can see we have a good bunch and a good dressing room. It has been easy for me to fit in.”

With three goals in two pre-season games already, Forrest is quickly fitting in on the pitch as well as off it. He is feeling sharp and has done enough already to suggest that he could become a big asset for Robbie Neilson in the season ahead.

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Alan Forrest celebrates his goal immediately after coming off the bench in Tuesday's 7-0 win over East Fife at Bayview. Picture: Ross Parker / SNS

“I’ve managed to score a few goals now so hopefully that continues,” he said. “I’m feeling good. All the boys have come back in good fitness. We had a few tough sessions over in Spain, but it was enjoyable and it is good to be back playing games here.”

His goal on Tuesday may be a taste of things to come for Hearts, Forrest’s direct run in behind the full-back slicing open the home defence. Aaron McEneff slipped the ball into his path as the winger came in off the right flank. He controlled with one touch and found the bottom corner with his second. It was a clever run and composed finish from the pacy attacker, who is equally comfortable on either flank.

“I mostly played on the left last year for Livingston, cutting in, but I like that right side as well,” he explained. “So, no matter where I’m selected in those forward areas, it’s the same. If I’m on the left I’ll look to cut in and on the right I’m still looking to cut in. On either flank I’m looking to create and score goals.”

He racked up seven goals and four assists last season as Livingston consolidated their Premiership status once again. Forrest is aiming to improve on those figures in what will be his biggest season to date.

Alan Forrest enjoyed his pre-season training camp with Hearts in Spain, where he quickly got to know his teammates and made a bright start on the pitch. Picture: Mark Scates / SNS

The Ayrshire native spent his first seven years as a senior pro bobbing between League One and the Championship for Ayr United before being snapped up by Livingston two summers ago. He made that step up look easy, quickly establishing himself as a regular under David Martindale and adding more goals and assists to his game.

“Over the last couple of years, playing in the Premiership has been big for me, especially last season,” he reflected. “I managed to add numbers to my game. I feel as if I have progressed over the last couple of seasons in the top flight. It’s now about kicking on again and I feel this move is a good one to test myself at this level. It has started well and long may it continue.

“I want to add numbers, whether it be goals or assists, and help the team out. I’m just looking to contribute in any way I can. Goals, assists, helping the team out – as long as I can keep pushing and getting better, that’s my aim.”

At 25, Forrest is entering his prime years. With his Livingston contract running out, there were other offers on the table but a two-year contract at Hearts was too good an opportunity to turn down.

“The chance to play European football is massive for me,” he explained. “I feel it’s an opportunity for me to try and kick-on my career, with those games coming up. Hearts did well in the league, so we’ll be looking to keep that up as well as playing European football. The boys know it will be tough, but we have a big squad of players and everyone is back, ready and looking forward to it.

“The squad is really good and everybody has come back in good shape. We’ve got a really good squad here and I think we need that with European football and our aim to do well in the league. It’s important. Healthy competition for places will help kick everyone on. Me included.”