'I like to run, tackle, scream.' Orestis Kiomourtzoglou craves pace and passion at Hearts amid name confusion

Abbreviate Orestis Kiomourtzoglou’s name to ‘Kio’ and he won’t mind. Just don’t expect him to look for any shortcuts whilst in Scotland.

He is ready for business as a £350,000 Hearts signing from the Dutch second division club Heracles Almelo. If pronouncing his surname is a challenge many won’t fancy, the German midfielder is fully prepared to confront Scottish football head-on.

“If you give everything on the pitch, then we will give everything to you. This was the message from Hearts,” he says. He doesn’t come across as the type to mess about. The German mindset, Greek heritage and Dutch-honed talents make for an imposing No.8.

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Kiomourtzoglou – we’ll stick with the full version since it’s slightly easier to write than say – played as a striker in his youth. He was courted by Werder Bremen at 19 after establishing himself in Germany’s third division with local club SpVgg Unterhaching. It was there he reportedly earned the nickname ‘Arturo Vidal’ due to his competitive edge.

After three years in Almelo, Hearts is the next chapter for this ambitious and driven 24-year-old. He scored in Feyenoord’s De Kuip stadium and faced the best of Ajax, PSV Eindhoven and AZ Alkmaar before Heracles’ relegation in May sparked thoughts of a move.

“This type of football is best for me. It’s how I want to play football. I am a guy who likes to run, tackle and scream. The game in Scotland will be good for me,” explains Kiomourtzoglou, who enjoyed a debut at Fir Park two weeks ago following a frustrating wait for a UK visa.

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“I made the step from the third division in Germany to the first league in the Netherlands and that was a big step. It was good to play there three years and improve. Now is the perfect timing to make the next step and go to a higher level again. I want to improve and show I can play at this level. Hearts as a club is a much higher level and there are European games as well.”

Not forgetting high-octane league matches, such as Rangers at lunchtime on Saturday. The Glasgow club’s Champions League fixtures allowed Tynecastle’s new recruit a valuable insight ahead of his home debut. “After us they play Liverpool at Anfield, so they will have pressure on their shoulders when they come to us.

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Recent signing Orestis Kiomourtzoglou is settling quickly at Hearts.

“It’s a big game for us, but when you go on the pitch it doesn’t matter who the other team is, you want to win. You don’t think: ‘Oh, it’s Rangers. They have big players who play for their national team.’ You go on the pitch wanting to win, it doesn’t matter who they have. If we win, it will send a signal.”

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Hearts would pilfer second place in the Premiership table from their opponents with victory by a two-goal margin. Kiomourtzoglou anticipates the kind of frenetic encounter for which he came to Scotland. You get the impression he will revel in it.

“I scored my first goal in the Netherlands was in De Kuip against Feyenoord when we drew 1-1, so I have some experience. I know what it is like to play against big teams,” he says. “I have played against some big players, too. Every year Ajax sell their best players to all the big teams around the world.

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“So I have played some big names but for me that’s not important. When I am on the pitch I just want to win, it doesn’t matter who is my opponent. I would like to make a name for myself here. I am not just here to play and for people to forget me. Everybody wants to be the best version of themselves. I try to give everything on the pitch for my team-mates and fans. Let’s hope it’s worth it.”

The all-encompassing approach will doubtless endear him to Tynecastle’s regulars. Dutch football’s technical style can make great viewing, but there is an intensity about British football that entices the best. “Everything is faster here. In my first game, everything was up and down, up and down. I like it. That’s one of the reasons I came here. It’s my type of football,” says Kiomourtzoglou.

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“It wasn’t a shock to me because before I came here I searched a lot and talked a lot to people. I expected this. In the Netherlands it is more technical, not really based on the result. Here it is all about the result. You have to win. In the Netherlands, if some teams score for 1-0, they go directly on again and they score two, three or four. Then it is over. But there are some differences in the competitions.”

There are also some cultural differences but Kiomourtzoglou has acclimatised fairly easily in Edinburgh. Sorting out home wifi presented some issues, mainly down to that unusual surname. “If they hear the name one time and they can pronounce it then good, but to spell it is a little bit difficult – also for me,” he smirks.

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“The first time I was in my apartment I had to fix my wifi. I had to spell my name and it was quite difficult. But on my shirt is ‘Kio’. Most guys call me Kio and some guys call me Orestis. Whatever is best for them. I listen to everything. Nobody calls me Kiomourtzoglou. It is quite long.”

Crowbarring that name into a song would be difficult, so expect to hear more references to ‘Kio’ than anything else. Simple and efficient suits a German who is eager to impress. “The fans are really important. This will be my first home match but I’ve sat in the crowd for games. Every situation, every tackle, the fans celebrate and scream.

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“It’s different to football in the Netherlands. Here the fans live football. In the Netherlands they want to see good dribbles and nice goals. Of course they want to see that in Scotland too, but if you win the ball in midfield and play the ball forward the crowd cheer. That does not happen in the Netherlands.”

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