Joaquim Adao won’t change his combative style for tonight’s Edinburgh derby despite six yellow cards in his first six Hearts appearances.
The on-loan Sion midfielder will make his derby debut at Easter Road and insisted he will change the way he plays – but only after this evening’s match with Hibs.
He received four league cautions plus two in the Scottish Cup and has yet to complete 90 minutes in Scotland without his name entering a referee’s notebook.
The player stressed he has been unlucky with some of the bookings, but admitted he will take another one this evening if it helps Hearts get three points against their greatest rivals.
Asked if he can get through without a booking in Leith, he replied. “This game will be difficult – I can’t promise! When you speak about a derby it is not just a normal game, it is more a game for the fans. You need to give 100 per cent, and when I play that’s what I do.
“I need to change, I need to play a little bit more with my head, be intelligent and not give away stupid fouls. But it happens. I came here having not played many games and I get a little bit excited.
“After the derby I can change, maybe, but not for this game. I have not been lucky, but this is football. If you played football and the referee didn’t have cards a lot of people would end up dead on the pitch.
“This is my record here. Last season I had the same number and maybe one red card. Here, I have played six games and I have six bookings.”
Adao, 25, wants to alter perceptions of him as a player who has a poor disciplinary record.
“If you see me I am a little bit quick, I play with a lot of energy and that’s why. A lot of people now see the name Joaquim Adao and think of yellow cards, not of goals.
“But I will take a yellow against Hibs if we win the game. For me that’s okay.”
Encounters with fans in and around Edinburgh have underlined the importance of the Hearts-Hibs rivalry.
“I am ready. It is an important game and for Hearts even more so because we lost in the cup last week,” he said. “In the league we want to finish in the top six so we need points. This game is perfect to set up the rest of the season.
“The boys haven’t told me too much but I have seen a lot of people speak about this game. The French players here, David and Malo, have told me it’s a very important game.
“I can see in the town when I got out with my friend what it means. The other day I went out with my family and the taxi driver was a Hibs fan. He told me he was going to kill me! So you can see it is an important game.
“When I was at Sion our big game was against Lausanne but we are in the same region, not in the same city. A real derby is two teams in the same city. This is a real derby.”
The Scottish Cup quarter-final loss to Motherwell ended Hearts’ hopes of silverware this season. Now they aim to close the gap on Hibs, who sit nine points ahead in the Premiership with a game in hand.
“The cup is over and for the fans we need to give them something different,” said Adao. “We were unlucky against Motherwell but we need to show a strong reaction.
“I don’t know too much about the Hibs players, I have only seen one game on TV. They play good football but we have strong players, too. We will see what happens tonight.”