Kyle Lafferty has revealed that he would happily stay at Hearts for the rest of his career to repay them for their support over his gambling addiction.
The 30-year-old Northern Ireland internationalist, who joined the Jambos last summer after his release from Norwich City, admitted two months ago that he was battling a serious betting problem that has plagued him throughout his career.
With the help of Hearts assistant coach Austin MacPhee – who also works with Lafferty at international level – and Tynecastle owner Ann Budge, the former Rangers, Palermo and Burnley striker is now battling his issues and says he owes a huge debt to everyone at the club for helping him confront his demons.
Speaking ahead of Northern Ireland’s World Cup qualification play-off second leg away in Switzerland tonight, Laffterty said: “I don’t think I would have come out if I wasn’t at Hearts.
“The club, and my family as well, have been superb. Austin has been amazing. Ann has been so supportive too and she has been speaking to Austin to see how I’ve been doing and if I have been to a [Gambler Anonymous] meeting and stuff like that.
“To be someone who owns the club and be so into me getting over this hurdle, she has been incredible. That’s one of the reasons why I’m trying to do everything I can on the pitch to help the team be successful and to get us in a position where we should be.
“I really don’t think I would have come out with this if I had been at any other club.
“I absolutely love it there, the team, the lads, the club. They have been so good to me and supported me through a lot of things.
“Would I mind finishing my career there? If the opportunity came up and things were right for both of us, I would love to because the fans are passionate and I’m putting in 110 per cent in every game and they know they are going to get their all from me.
“I’m enjoying training every day and enjoying being involved every weekend which I haven’t had for three years.”