Hearts ace Nathaniel Atkinson reveals greeting from ex-Hibs star Martin Boyle on international duty
and live on Freeview channel 276
The Hearts wing-back was called up to Graham Arnold’s squad for the latest round of World Cup qualifiers and made his full debut, playing 90 minutes, in the 1-0 defeat to Saudi Arabia.
It was reward for his impressive performances since joining the Tynecastle side from Melbourne City in the January transfer window.
Aside from familiar faces from back home, Atkinson was also greeted by Boyle, the Aberdonian adopted Aussie, who switched to the Socceroos in 2018 to represent the country of his father’s birth when a call from Scotland wasn’t forthcoming.
Though he only left Easter Road in January – and, indeed, says he wishes to return to Hibs following his adventure in the Middle East with Saudi side Al-Faisaly – Boyle was only happy to take the 22-year-old Jambo under his wing, once he’d got a few digs in first.
“He had few crude words to say about Hearts, obviously! Nah, Boyley was one of the guys who really brought me in and made me feel at home. He’s a good guy and it was good to have him around,” said Atkinson.
"It could have gone the other way round and he could have completely pied me off, but he didn’t."
Making his international bow was the completion of a long journey for Atkinson, who became the first Tazmanian in 23 years to play for the Australian national team.
He’s be looking now to establish himself in the squad with a huge qualifying match this summer against the United Arab Emirates as Arnold’s side look to qualify for Qatar 2022.
“It was surreal,” Atkinson said of his debut. “It was a long time coming and it was a proud moment, not just for me but my family, who made a lot of sacrifices as well.
“We are in a bit of a tough time with the Socceroos at the moment, having to go through more qualifiers and not going through automatically. But for me personally it was an amazing feeling.”