'Blessed' Ex-Hearts hitman Kyle Lafferty speaks after signing for Sunderland
Northern Irishman has signed with Black Cats despite expressing desire to play for Hearts again
Former Hearts striker Kyle Lafferty says he feels "blessed" to have signed a deal with Sunderland until the end of the season - less than a week after he revealed that his "first option" would be a Tynecastle return.
The 32-year-old Northern Irishman was heavily linked with Hearts after becoming a free agent following the expiration of his contract at Norwegian side Sarpsborg.
Lafferty himself expressed a desire to return to Gorgie, where he scored 20 goals in 49 appearances during his 13-month stint between 2017 and 2018, saying last Tuesday: "My first option would be Hearts and I’ve said previously that I’d jump at the chance to go back.
“I loved the time I had there, the fans were great with me and I have lots of friends there who I still keep in touch with. I’ve spoken with a few Hearts boys and had a few texts about what’s going on but everything is hypothetical as there has been no firm contact."
However, the ex-Rangers and Norwich hitman has teamed up with the Black Cats as he tries to help win them promotion to the English Championship.
"I know what it takes to play for a team like this and I'm excited to be here," Lafferty told the club's website. "I said when Sunderland approached me, I'd have come here at 21. To get this opportunity at 32, I'm blessed and excited.
“I've had about four or five weeks off, I've been doing running myself but training with a team is a different thing.
“You miss that sharpness, getting close to people, pressing people. Hopefully a week or two under my belt I'll be up to scratch and raring to go.
“I'll always give 110%, even when we're losing and the game looks out of our reach.
“I'll still be going, chasing every ball down and fighting for every ball. I'll try and help the team get points on the board."