Hearts' Alex Cochrane played with England's Phil Foden and Jadon Sancho and knows pain of penalty miss - now he's focused on cup success in Scotland
For an England youth player living in Scotland, Sunday was a night for decorum. Alex Cochrane didn’t need reminding of that fact just two weeks since arriving at Hearts.
Italy’s penalty success in the European Championship final left the Under-20 internationalist understandably disappointed watching from his new flat in Edinburgh. He has played with Phil Foden and Jadon Sancho, plus lined up against Bukayo Saka and Reece James. He wouldn’t wish their personal anguish on anyone.
“There was quite a bit of celebrating going on around where I live because England lost,” said the 21-year-old, on loan at Hearts from Brighton and Hove Albion. “There were a few folk on balconies screaming for Italy but I knew it was going to happen if England lost. It was unfortunate with the outcome.
“I missed a penalty in a crucial shootout for Brighton in the FA Youth Cup fourth round tie against Stoke City and that was bad enough. I was in tears and it took me about a week to get over it.
“I can only imagine it is ten times harder what they had to go through. Stepping up at such a young age shows the courage and belief these guys have in themselves. Unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be but I have no doubt these guys will bounce back. Missing that penalty brought me out of my shell a bit more and it builds you as a person.”
Cochrane is on his own quest to reach the top and began his Hearts loan in earnest in Saturday’s 2-0 Premier Sports Cup win at Peterhead. Next up is Cove Rangers at Tynecastle Park on Tuesday.
"I’m feeling good and settled. I feel like I’m getting there,” he said. “Pre-season is always a tough one, you have to be ready to go straight away in Scotland because the cup comes immediately but I feel like I’m confident and there.
“These games get you up to match speed straight away and the quicker you get there the more confident you are. It’s definitely a positive to start the season like this.”
Around 2,000 supporters will be in attendance – the first time Hearts fans have seen their team in the flesh for 16 months.
“I’ve heard the atmosphere is something special so I can’t wait to get the fans in, even if it’s a couple of thousand,” said Cochrane. “I’m looking forward to getting them in and noise in the stadium because it’s been far too long.”
For manager Robbie Neilson, it is another chance to test his managerial nous against former Hearts colleague Paul Hartley. “I think we played against him when he was at Dundee at the start of the 2015/16 season. Juanma scored a double up there,” recalled Neilson.
“I've known Paul for years and I get on with him really well. I speak to him quite regularly and obviously we had a couple of players up there on loan last season in Cammy Logan and Connor Smith. He's building a good squad.
“I know at the moment he doesn't have a huge number of players but he's brought in a bit of experience in the midfield area. It's good going up against an old pal – more so if you win.”