John Souttar today spoke of his “incredible” pride captaining Hearts at the age of 21. The defender led his team out at East End Park on Saturday in Christophe Berra’s absence and played a crucial role in the 1-0 win over Dunfermline to help secure a place in the Betfred Cup quarter-finals
Souttar feels privileged to be given the armband after Berra was sidelined for six months with a torn hamstring. He is expected to continue in the role and admitted it is an honour he will remember for the rest of his career.
“It’s incredible for me to be captain. At the age of 21, to be captaining a team like Hearts is incredible,” he explained. “You can’t think too much about it. I just have to play my own game.
“There are a lot of natural leaders in there, Steven MacLean, Stevie Naismith – a lot of them. There are other captains in the team but to get to wear the armband at 21 is something I will never forget.”
Souttar was given the armband at half-time in Hearts’ previous match against Celtic after Berra was stretchered off. “The kit man came up to me at half-time in the Celtic game and the armband was on my arm almost without me even knowing,” said Souttar.
“To be fair, it happened so quickly at half-time. I don’t know what I was thinking but, fortunately, we kept the clean sheet and won the game. This week, knowing I was going to be captain, I didn’t feel any more responsibility.
“I feel like I took responsibility before I was made captain. Whether you are wearing the armband or not, you take responsibility. I don’t think it will change me but, when I look back on my career, I’ll realise what a big achievement it is.”
Souttar is now hoping his impressive form results in a Scotland debut next month. National coach Alex McLeish admitted last week that the player is in his thoughts for the forthcoming friendly against Belgium and the UEFA Nations League tie against Albania. Injury forced Souttar to withdraw from international duty after McLeish called him into the Scotland senior squad for the first time in May. “It’s something you dream of as a boy, playing for your country,” said Souttar.
“To pull out through injury was horrible. It wasn’t even that bad an injury.
“It was a niggle but it was something that meant I couldn’t perform. I had tried to push it and it just wasn’t happening. For me, it was frustrating.
“I believe, one day, it will happen. Whether it’s now or in a few years, I will hopefully be ready. It was nice to hear the manager say I’m on the radar. If I continue to play well for Hearts, hopefully I will stay on the radar.
“I can’t think too much about that. I’ve got to concentrate on being captain of Hearts and winning games.”