Kenny Anderson does grandfather proud by joining Hearts

Kenny Anderson is eager to write a new chapter in his Hearts career. Pic: SNS
Kenny Anderson is eager to write a new chapter in his Hearts career. Pic: SNS
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Should Jim Anderson peer down from above on the Energy Assets Arena today, he will feel his spiritual heart swell with pride.

Grandson Kenny is expected to debut there for Hearts against Livingston, and was both surprised and delighted to learn he would be honouring his late grandfather in doing so.

It was only after signing his 18-month Hearts contract at the start of the week that Anderson was informed of his grandad’s allegiance to Tynecastle. The 22-year-old grew up in Holland at RKC Waalwijk with a Dundonian dad, Alex – who supports Dundee United – and Dutch mother, Joke, but was never told his grandad had supported Hearts.

The pair never got to meet but Anderson will feel an emotional bond donning the maroon shirt this afternoon.

“My dad told me a lot about Scottish football,” he said. “A funny thing is my Grandad Jim was a Hearts supporter so my uncle [Jack] is very proud. He didn’t choose to go to the Dundee United side. I never met my grandad because he already passed away. After I signed my Hearts contract, that’s when my uncle told me that my grandad supported them.

“It was a nice moment. The thing is, my other Grandad [on his mother’s side] was an RKC supporter and I have played there already, so I think this is meant to be.

“My dad was a Dundee United supporter. I saw in some newspapers my sister saying I was a Dundee United fan. It was always a question when I said my dad was from Dundee: ‘Is he a United fan or a Dundee fan?’ I don’t really care if they win or lose. I’ve never been to any of their games, although I went to a Scotland match when I was very young.

“My dad was born and raised in Dundee and moved to Holland because of my mum. Then I was born.”

Anderson’s links to Scotland can only be an advantage entering a new chapter in his football career. Knowing Edinburgh and living with family will help the midfielder adjust to life at Hearts.

“When I was younger, I always said I wanted to become a professional footballer,” he explained. “It was always Holland and Scotland because that was my background. In Holland, they always say I’m the Scottish guy and in Scotland they say I’m a Dutch guy. I think I feel half and half.

“I managed to play in Holland, then Hearts were interested in me. This is a massive step coming from the club where I was. Hopefully I can show myself well in Scotland.

“I’m staying with my uncle in Edinburgh right now. It’s a big step for me to come from Holland to Scotland and my sister [Maggie] also lives at my uncle’s, so we have a little family gathering there. We stay near the city centre.

“An old team-mate of mine is a good friend of Soufian El Hassnaoui. He had already been over to see Hearts and he told me it’s a massive club. He said it was a great for me to sign there. Everyone has made me feel welcome. When you come to another country it’s good if you already have a connection.

“When you move to a country where you don’t have any family and you don’t speak the language, the step is bigger. I’ve got family here and I know the language, but if the guys in the changing room talk I still can’t really understand because it’s so fast. When they slow down, I’m fine.”

Anderson played alongside Virgil van Dijk at youth level in Holland and hopes to make similar progress to the Celtic defender whilst in Scotland. Long-term, his ambition is to play in England.

“I signed a one-and-a-half-year contract. If that goes well, hopefully they will extend it. I think everybody has ambition so maybe a move to England will be the next step. First I want to show myself at Hearts, that’s the main priority. I’ll take it one step at a time and not look too far ahead.

“It’s a massive club. I see all the press here but at my old club you just had one newspaper and one TV station. This is much bigger. The stadium is always full and at away matches you get 4000, 5000, 6000 or even 7000 fans coming.”