Exclusive: Hearts European hero Alan Forrest reveals career landmark after goal in Riga
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The winger claimed his first European goal with a late strike to complete a memorable win against the Latvian champions RFS. He labelled that moment the pinnacle of his time in professional football so far.
Formerly of Ayr United and Livingston, 26-year-old Forrest is thriving since moving to Tynecastle Park in June. His goal as a substitute in Latvia added to Lawrence Shankland’s penalty to move Hearts second in Group A behind Istanbul Basaksehir.
“I think it is the highlight,” said Forrest, speaking exclusively to the Evening News. “The Zurich game last month was my highlight at the time. Starting a game with the chance to go through to the Europa League was really special for me. Thursday was a big game in a big competition and I managed to help the team and score so I’m delighted.
“You would like to start the game but the boys did well and we thoroughly deserved our win. We had more chances than Riga but at 1-0 you want that next goal because anything can happen. I was delighted to add that second but, more importantly, to get the win that we were needing.”
Midfielder Cammy Devlin’s attacking run and pass created the chance for Forrest in stoppage-time. “I was screaming at Cammy,” admitted the winger.
“I was shouting and shouting because I had made the run. I think he delayed to see what the defender was doing. He was dropping off but I was just screaming. I think that maybe did help him make the decision.
“When Cammy’s ball came to me I had a feeling about what I would do. I knew I wanted to get the shot away. I think he did have Stephen Humphrys in a good position to his left. I’m delighted he gave the ball to me and I managed to find the net.
“It’s good for me, personally, to get a goal in Europe and brilliant for us to get the win. Goals help any forward player. The run we have been on hasn’t helped. We have had tough games but Thursday was a result we really wanted.”
The victory ended a run of six defeats in seven games for Hearts, who earned £436,000 from UEFA in the process.
“As footballers, you think firstly about taking care of the game but there is that [financial] side to it as well, which is important,” said Forrest. “We knew coming into Thursday’s game that it was a good chance for us to get back on track. It’s done us the world of good.
“It’s crazy that we are above Fiorentina but that’s why Thursday was a big one. If we didn’t win in Riga we would have been below Fiorentina and it will be tough against them. It was important for us to keep ourselves right. Now we go into the next game with confidence. Although Fiorentina are a great side, we won’t fear them.”