Explosive pace, a cultured left foot, German youth caps and a CV detailing St Pauli, Arsenal, Portsmouth and Hamburg. Anyone questioning Hearts’ signing of the German left-back Lennard Sowah should perhaps think again.
Or chat to Sean McKirdy, the former Tynecastle midfielder who was Sowah’s team-mate at Hamilton until last month. Sowah spent the last three months at New Douglas Park before agreeing to switch to Tynecastle on an initial six-month contract, which was confirmed yesterday.
Aged 24, he managed seven appearances in Lanarkshire and his arrival in Edinburgh has left some Hearts supporters underwhelmed. McKirdy, a product of the Riccarton youth academy, can understand why but outlined the qualities of a player who could, potentially, solve the problem left-back position at his former club.
“He’s a very explosive player, very quick over 15 or 20 yards,” explained the teenager. “You could see a mile off that he’s a good player but Hearts is a good move for him at this stage.
“I can see from a Hearts fan’s point of view why it’s maybe not the most exciting signing in the world, but I can see him being the one to add a bit of style to that left-back position. I think he’ll do well there.
“I was half wondering if someone in the Premiership would take a chance on him when he left Hamilton. I didn’t expect it to be Hearts but he has always looked comfortable when he’s played. He stood out when he played for Hamilton and he’s at a decent age.
“Hearts have gone down that route before, signing a promising young player who has maybe lost their way a little bit. It doesn’t entirely surprise me from that point of view so I hope it works out for him.”
Sowah was born in Hamburg to Ghanaian parents and joined local club St Pauli aged 13. He was then lured to Arsenal the following year. Subsequent moves to Portsmouth, back to Hamburg SV and then to Vestsjaelland in Denmark saw him fail to settle. Muscle injuries common in players with explosive pace didn’t help. Now he gets the chance to establish himself as Hearts’ first-choice left-back ahead of Juwon Oshaniwa and Faycal Rherras. “It’s a big move but he’s a strong character,” continued McKirdy.
“At Hamilton, even when he was trying to play football in areas which some people considered were the wrong areas, he dealt with it. He never went into his shell. He still looked to play.
“He’s very, very comfortable on the ball. You see that straight away. He’s always looking to try and play with the ball if he can. He’s left-footed, very cultured and just one of these footballers who looks very balanced. He’s pretty athletic and very quick on recovery runs.
“He’s good enough defensively to play centre-back and he’s good on the ball, so I can see him doing well at Hearts once he gets settled.
“He played left of a back three a lot at Hamilton because we play a back three or back five most of the time. With his injuries, we haven’t see him at left-back in a back four, which is where I’d assume he’ll play at Hearts.
“He’ll have no problems going forward because he’s comfortable with the ball at his feet. He’s also decent defensively. I was impressed by him from the moment he came in.”
It would be fair to say he is a player with typically German attributes rather than those of his African heritage. “I certainly wouldn’t disagree with that. He is a very efficient player who does his job and he’s played with some very good teams,” said McKirdy. “I heard about his move from one of the boys at Hearts yesterday morning. No-one at Hamilton knew about it. As far as we were concerned, Lennard was away and that was it.
“He was only at Hamilton for a few months but he’s a very friendly and amicable guy. He kept himself to himself and never had any problems with anyone. I’d be surprised if anyone had a bad word to say about him.”