Hearts hero returns to Scottish football to sign for cinch Premiership side

Former Hearts defender Ryan McGowan has completed a return to Scottish football by signing for St Johnstone.

The 32-year-old has penned a two-year contract to sign for the Perth outfit, who are hoping to bounce back this campaign after almost dropping out of the top flight last season.

McGowan is a hero at Tynecastle for his time with the club earlier in his career. Having come through the youth ranks, McGowan featured for the first team between 2008 and 2013, with a couple of loan deals sprinkled in between, before signing for Shangdong in China as Hearts needed the transfer money due to their financial problems at the time.

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The Australian’s greatest moment in maroon came during the 2012 Scottish Cup final where, for the second time that season, the right-back netted from a yard out against Edinburgh rivals Hibs. It was Hearts’ fourth goal in their 5-1 win and the moment which let everyone in attendance know for certain the cup was coming back to Gorgie.

Ryan McGowan roars with delight after scoring his side's fourth goal of the game as Hearts defeated Hibs in the 2012 Scottish Cup final. Picture: SNS

Following his departure, he returned to Scotland with Dundee United in the 2015 January transfer window. He would remain a year before leaving once again for China with Henan Jianye. He came back again to sign for Dundee in the second half of the 2018/19 season on loan from Bradford City.

Now more a centre-back than a full-back, he’ll be expected to shore up the right side of the St Johnstone back three. It’s been a problem area for boss Callum Davidson since the 2021 double-winners sold Jason Kerr to Wigan Athletic.

After managing to negotiate his way out of his deal with Kuwait SC, McGowan spoke of his happiness at being able to return to his “second home”.

“I’m delighted to get the deal done. It has been a long process trying to get out of my previous club, I am delighted to be here and I am looking forward to get started.

“There has been interested for a couple of weeks now. I had to sort a few things out with my old club, as soon as that was sorted it was all systems go. I am delighted to get here before the start of the season.

“There is a number of reasons. I have a big personal connection to Scotland, it’s basically my second home. It was a good opportunity to get back here and play in the Premier League. There is a lot of fellow Australians here and I think it will be a good league this year.

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“I think it’s important to have a good blend of youth and experience. I have trained a few times now and we already have a good level of young players from what I can see. It is important for me as one of the older boys to make sure I can help them in anyway possible. Most of all I have to make sure I help the club; we want to be successful this year. It was a disappointing season last year and we want to make sure we do well this time. Not only in the league but the cup competitions as well."

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