The Vengaboys don’t appear on Arnaud Djoum’s music playlist but he knows at least one of their tunes thanks to Hibs fans.
“Djoum, Djoum, Djoum, Djoum, he comes from Cameroon, he’s never won a derby, a derby in maroon,” is a popular chant down Easter Road. Sadly for the Hearts midfielder, that fact is true.
He has just recovered from an injury affecting his calf and Achilles and is preparing for his fifth outing against Hibs in Sunday’s Scottish Cup tie at Tynecastle Park. He has yet to sample victory.
It is a microcosm of Hearts’ own misfortune in the Edinburgh derby, a fixture they have not won in the last nine attempts. Hibs supporters seized upon the statistics to aim some banter in Djoum’s direction. Their adaptation of the Vengaboys’ 1999 hit “Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom” draws a wry smile from the player. He is at least able to appreciate the humour whilst harbouring a burning desire to silence that song permanently this weekend.
“I’m just laughing about it. I don’t take it offensively like it hurts me or anything like that. It’s just funny,” said Djoum, speaking exclusively to the Evening News inside the Hearts training base at Riccarton.
“I think it’s more supporters’ humour. When I scored against Hibs two years ago, the Hearts fans were singing a song for me. Now the Hibs fans try to make a joke of it. I only laughed when I heard their song.
“It also makes me more excited to do things that my fans can enjoy. Hopefully that starts on Sunday. Maybe they will create a new song.”
Tynecastle’s Roseburn Stand will again be filled with green-and-white-clad Hibs followers this weekend. It is fair to assume that a fair portion of their vocal repertoire will be aimed in Djoum’s direction.
“This is what supporters do,” said the 28-year-old. “I try not to look to much at this kind of thing. When they talk about you, it’s always because you are doing a good job. I don’t take it too seriously. I just try to play and help my team-mates as best as I can.”
A Cameroonian who grew up in Belgium and played in the Netherlands, Turkey and Poland, Djoum thrives on the intensity of Scottish football. He likes the fiery nature of supporters, even when they are taunting him about his failure to beat their team two and a half years after he arrived in Edinburgh.
“I enjoy that because it means the fans are really close with their team and they are right behind their club. They always try to do something special on a matchday,” he pointed out.
“I have been unlucky in derby matches. Personally, it would be something special to beat Hibs. I really want to do that for the fans and for the club. It’s a nice challenge for me and I will do everything to achieve it.”
If he is successful, it would mean the end of that chorus once and for all. “That is the best response there could be for me so I want to make that happen.”
There is significantly more at stake in this derby than any other since the 2012 Scottish Cup final between these clubs. Djoum’s issue aside, Hibs are looking to stretch their unbeaten run against Hearts to ten games, whilst the hosts haven’t lost in nine games since November 5 and set a new club record of six successive clean sheets prior to the winter break. On top of all that, the prize for the winners is a Scottish Cup fifth-round place.
Put bluntly, avoiding defeat in this one is imperative. “For sure, there is extra pressure from the fans,” said Djoum. “They really want to win this game and we want to win, too, for them and the club. Everybody needs to be focused and ready. This is a cup game and that means even more because, if you don’t do well, you are out of the cup.”
Hearts know that feeling only too well having been eliminated from the Scottish Cup by their city neighbours in each of the last two seasons. Djoum’s only goal against the Easter Road side came at Tynecastle two years ago.
“The day I scored against Hibs, the feeling was one of the best in my life. We were 2-0 up and in ten minutes we lost two goals, it was so frustrating. Everybody was really disappointed but we need to learn from that.
“It’s such a big day and that’s why it’s really important we win on Sunday. If that happens again this time and we go 2-0 up, we have to make sure we finish with a win and go to the next round of the cup.
“This derby ranks quite high. The intensity of the match is really high. For me, it’s one of the most difficult games I have played in during my career. You see both sets of fans and you realise how important it is for the supporters. I would put Hearts against Hibs as one of the top three games I have played in during my career.”
One of Djoum’s tasks since Hearts returned from their winter training camp in Spain has been to ensure those not present during the last two seasons know what Sunday is about. Two successive cup losses to Hibs simply cannot become three.
“I think the new players know about that now,” he said. “I have tried to tell them and some of the other guys did the same. They need to be aware of this game because it’s different in the Scottish Cup. It is only one game so we have told everyone what happened before.
“Everybody saw the [league] game against Hibs at home last month, so they know a little bit of what to expect. It will be even more intense on Sunday and I think we are going to be ready for that.
“I am back from injury and quite a few other boys are back as well, so the team is close to being fully fit. I think we have a good chance to win this game.”
The midfielder insisted he has no reservations about playing from the start despite a month-long absence.
“I will be fine if I start. I will do my best and if I cannot give any more after 70 minutes or something, I will just put my hand up and tell the gaffer. I will go and give everything I possibly can for the team and see what happens.”
Whenever he walks off, he hopes it is with chest puffed out rather than head sunk. He can’t take much more Vengaboys.
Djoum spent five years of his career playing in the Netherlands but Dutch Eurodance carries no appeal. Although, if Hearts win on Sunday, he might add a different Vengaboys hit to that playlist: “We Like to Party....”