Huge period for Hearts keeper Craig Gordon with baby birth and run of six clean sheets
Even by Craig Gordon’s illustrious standards, the last couple of weeks have been pretty momentous.
After winning the Championship title with Hearts, the goalkeeper welcomed his new-born son into the world on Monday, recorded a sixth straight clean sheet on Tuesday, and now awaits a league trophy presentation this weekend.
At 38, you might think he could struggle to manage such a hectic schedule but like most other things in life he takes it all in his stride. Age is no barrier when you simply don’t do flustered.
Gordon’s new child with partner Summer was born just 24 hours before Hearts’ 0-0 draw with Morton at Cappielow Park. The Scotland keeper is ready for sleepless nights over the coming months and, with that in mind, can be thankful promotion is already guaranteed.
He has won more silverware than he can polish and competed at the highest level of club and international football. Yet the last few days, including that tousy draw in Greenock, will be remembered for various different reasons.
“We got a clean sheet at the end of it no matter how ugly it was. It's been a hectic few days. I'll hopefully get at least one night's sleep before they come home,” Gordon said of his family.“I was fine to play against Morton. I went straight from the hospital on Tuesday afternoon to meet up with the guys at Oriam and go through with everybody. We do have a name but I'll leave that to Summer to announce once we get home and get organised.”
Six straight shutouts
Gordon managed shutouts with Hearts last month against Ayr United and Arbroath before playing in Scotland’s 4-0 win over the Faroe Islands. Since his return to club duties, he has kept out Dunfermline, Alloa Athletic and Morton.
He is keen to look forward rather than back as Hearts prepare for a Premiership return next season. “We've done the job and done what's asked of us. It's all about building for next season,” he said.
“We'll look forward to the last two games and we want to go out on a high, especially at home, by putting on a good show then getting the trophy at the end of it.”
The big question is: Will Gordon and his team-mates accept the trophy or leave it on the stand as some fans wish? “We're going to have a chat about it now and see what the consensus is. We'll take everybody's view into account and then take it from there.”
The demands on the goalkeeper won’t end there with the European Championship due to kick off in June. He has already tried to persuade the Rangers goalkeeper Allan McGregor to end his international retirement for the tournament.
"I've already texted him to say: 'Come on, get yourself out of retirement and let's get the band back together.' He's been fantastic this season and I'm glad to see he's got a new contract [at Ibrox]. Hopefully I'll get to play against him, even if it is just a couple of more times. I'm pleased he's staying on and I'll see him next season.
“He's had a good season – doing it for the old guys to show they can still play at the highest level. He's done it especially in the big games when he hasn't had that much to do. That's the secret of playing for a top team – a team at the top of a league where you aren't going to have that much to do. Those moments of quality show how good he is.”
McGregor is also a contender for Scotland’s Player of the Year. “He is a good candidate. I'm sure there's a few in that Rangers team who will be looking at it but he's definitely one of them,” added Gordon.
New defence to come
With Hearts preparing to reshape their defence for the top flight, Gordon’s place as No.1 is one of few which remains secure. John Souttar’s return from injury at centre-back is another bonus.
“He's doing great on the road to recovery,” said Gordon. “We've really seen his quality in the early few weeks he's been back training and back in the team. He's a good leader as well, a good voice at the back who helps us organise.
“It's very welcome to see him coming back in. Hopefully he can go and finish the season strongly and really look forward to next year with a good pre-season under his belt.”
Manager Robbie Neilson is also encouraged that his defence has tightened up of late. “I think this guy’s more pleased with the clean sheets,” said Neilson, pointing to Gordon walking past
“I’ll take that,” replied the goalkeeper before his manager continued talking about the Morton match. “They didn’t put us under a lot of pressure. I thought John Souttar was outstanding again and it’s great to see him back.
“I would be amazed if we went down there and the pitch was getting watered before kick-off, to be honest. It’s all about being direct, knockdowns, flick-ons, set-plays and sometimes getting the rub of the green. We had a couple of opportunities in the second half that we should have done better with.
“We were disappointed not to get three points but the game had that end-of-season feel to it. We’ve now got two games coming up.
“First it’s Inverness at home on a brilliant pitch against a team who will be open because they need to win. Then Raith Rovers on a great astroturf and they need to win as well. We expect it to be two good games – different from Tuesday.”