Harry Cochrane has thanked Hearts manager Craig Levein for giving him the chance to shine at such an early age.
The 16-year-old midfielder is the youngest player to have featured in the Scottish Premiership this season and has made 18 first-team appearances since his debut last September, including 14 from the start.
Team-mate Anthony McDonald also made 11 appearances as a 16-year-old before turning 17 last week, and Cochrane, who is currently in Greece with Scotland Under-17s, believes Levein deserves credit for bucking a trend and fielding such youthful players in the country’s top division.
“This season has been like a dream come true,” Cochrane told the Scottish Football Association website. “I didn’t expect any of it to happen so quickly. Obviously that’s the hope but my initial aim was just to make sure I was a regular for the development team and then maybe make my first-team debut later in the season.
“Hearts have been great with me. I don’t think every manager would show the kind of faith Craig Levein has with the likes of Anthony McDonald and I. It’s not just been for a few minutes here and there either. He’s started us in important games and encouraged us to play our way.
“I’ve had so many unbelievable experiences with Hearts this season and I owe them everything for having the faith to put me into a first team environment at my age.”
Cochrane started both UEFA Elite Round matches in Greece over the past week as Scotland Under-17s lost to the hosts and Norway. They play Germany in their final fixture today but have no chance of qualifying for the European Championship finals in England in May.