Marcus Godinho: I told dad night before Hearts match that I’d score
A transatlantic conversation last Friday night became a prophecy for Hearts’ beating St Johnstone the next day. Marcus Godinho told his father, Manny, he would score his first goal in maroon and looked ecstatic when that prediction became reality just hours later.
The Canadian full-back ventured into foreign territory early in the second half with the scoreline goalless at Tynecastle Park. He hoped to exploit space within the visiting defence and was spotted by defender John Souttar. Godinho exquisitely controlled Souttar’s lofted through pass before using his weaker left foot to thump a powerful finish into the net.
Across in his homeland, there was a fair degree of parental pride. Mr Godinho can’t say his son’s exploits were unexpected given their chat the previous evening.
“I had a feeling it would be my day. I told my dad that on Friday night,” Godinho explained in an exclusive Evening News interview. “I said I was going to score and I just kept saying it. I just had a feeling. I don’t usually say that to him but he’s been challenging me as well. I felt I had more to offer than I had done in my last few games.
“On Saturday, I wanted to go out there and prove myself. I felt I had a decent performance and scored a goal so I was happy. I should have scored in the first half [with a back-post header] to be honest, so I was upset with myself. To get the one in the second half meant everything to me.
“My dad is back in Canada but he watched the game. So did my mum. They’re both really happy. I think I’ll just keep saying I’m going to score from now on and see what happens.”
The touch to bring down Souttar’s delivery was the catalyst for Godinho opening his senior Hearts goalscoring account.
“I was making a forward run and just saw the space. I think Sean [Clare] or Naisy [Steven Naismith] moved out and the space was on so I just decided to run into it.
“I saw Soapy was on the ball. Soapy has the ability to hit that pass so I just wanted to get there. He played a great ball and I tried to bring it down. As soon as I brought it down, I just thought: ‘I’m going to hit this.’ It ended up going in.
“I was happy with the touch. The finish was alright. It was with my left foot so I don’t know how I managed it. I said I was going to score but to actually make it happen was something else. It felt surreal. Everything I’ve been working for was summed up right in that moment.”
Make no mistake, Godinho has had to fight tooth and nail for his moment of triumph since joining Hearts in summer 2016. Three knee cartilage operations left him wondering whether he was cursed and destined to have his career ended before it properly began.
Events like Saturday make the pain, suffering and the gruelling comebacks worth it.
“I’ll probably never forget the injuries but 100 per cent it makes it worth it,” said the 21-year-old. “The opportunity to play makes it worth it for me. Scoring goals and doing well makes it so worth it. I would do it all again if I had to.
“It’s been tough being constantly in and out. I’ve just kept my head down and tried to give my all every time I’m out on the pitch. I do the same in training every day.”
Godinho has every right to enjoy his current high, but he also makes a point of remembering the lows. It reminds him of progress made despite seemingly relentless injury problems since he left Canada for Scotland three years ago.
“My lowest point was probably after my second operation. At that point, I still hadn’t played for the first team at all and I was as frustrated as you can be,” he explained. “As soon as I started finding my feet I was constantly pulled out.
“The third operation was a low point as well. They were quite pessimistic about how it was going to heal so to actually be back playing now is definitely my high for sure.”
A new height would be helping Hearts qualify for European competition. Saturday’s 2-0 win ensures they are firmly in the mix to secure a Europa League qualifying slot this season. Godinho revealed that the result was essential following a 2-1 home defeat by Dundee three days beforehand.
“Everyone was up for it because we wanted to make up for the result last Wednesday. I felt we were on top for the entire game against St Johnstone. We created chances and everyone is really happy with the performance.
“We owed it to the fans, 100 per cent. We knew we needed to win against St Johnstone. Everyone had that in their head, thinking: ‘We’re going to win, no matter what.’ We went out there and did just that.”
Consequently, the chase for Europe is intensifying. Hearts sit fifth in the Ladbrokes Premiership, four points behind Aberdeen in fourth place and six behind Rangers and Kilmarnock in joint-second.
Friday’s trip to Rugby Park could have major connotations for the Europa League berths.
“That’s definitely the aim,” added Godinho. “We have a tough game this week, it’s a big one for us and hopefully we can go there and get another result. Getting into Europe is the target every year and I feel the boys are ready for it. If we keep working, I believe we will get there.”