Brazilian defender Igor Rossi Branco believes he is perfectly suited to Hearts’ style of play after becoming the Premiership newcomers’ fourth summer signing.
The 26-year-old left-sided centre-back finalised a one-year deal with the Jambos last night and will compete with newly-appointed captain Alim Ozturk, recent recruit Blazej Augustyn and academy product Jordan McGhee for a defensive berth.
He is in line to make his first appearance in Sunday’s friendly against Everton at Tynecastle.
After starting his career with Brazilian club Internacional, Branco has spent the last five years with Maritimo, making 26 appearances for the first team but playing predominantly for their B team in the Portuguese lower leagues. The high point of his time with the Madeira-based club came in the 2012/13 season when he started against Club Brugge in the Europa League.
Having researched Hearts online and spoken with head coach Robbie Neilson and director of football Craig Levein, the 6ft 2ins defender feels his desire to play from the back fits perfectly with his new club’s philosophy.
“I am a leader, I play aggressively and with a lot of passion and I like to have the ball at my feet and play from the back,” said Branco, who was brought to the attention of Hearts’ management by chief scout John Murray. “From what I have seen, this is the Hearts way. I’m also hoping to score some goals as I’m good in the air.
“I am very much looking forward to living in Edinburgh. I was on the internet looking at the city and it is beautiful and so full of history. Robbie was very impressive and he explained to me his ambition for the club, where he expects us to be in the future.”
Branco could also provide cover at left-back, with Juwon Oshaniwa still waiting to complete his protracted move to Hearts. The Nigerian, viewed as Hearts’ first-choice left-back, is still awaiting a visa to travel to Scotland and tweeted yesterday: “I just don’t know what the delays are about my visa from UK embassy here in Abuja.” The tweet was accompanied by a picture of Tynecastle.