DANNY Swanson is determined to secure a long-term contract at Hearts after signing until the end of the season.
The midfielder said he is effectively still on trial because he needs to convince head coach Robbie Neilson that he deserves a longer stay at Tynecastle.
Neilson handed Swanson a nine-month contract yesterday and he goes straight into the squad for tomorrow night’s league match against Inverness. Having been released by Coventry City and failing to agree terms with St Johnstone, Swanson is determined to make the most of his chance with Hearts.
“I hope to win myself a longer deal. This is kind of a trial thing for me,” he said. “The manager has been honest enough and said he’d take me till the end of the season and see what happens. I’ve never been so determined to make something happen in my whole career. I’m 28 now, I’ve got a family and it’s all for them. I’m driven to be a success here. I’m ready to go, I can’t wait.”
Swanson, born in Edinburgh, also expressed gratitude to Hearts’ director of football Craig Levein. It was Levein who first gave him a chance in full-time football when he took him to Dundee United from Berwick Rangers in 2008. The pair are now reunited in Gorgie.
“I feel like every time I’m talking I mention Craig Levein’s name. He’s been such an important part of my career,” said Swanson. “He’s always believed in me and, hopefully, I can repay him. I owe a massive debt to him, to be honest. He’s a great man.
“Robbie, who I played with at Dundee United, is exceptional as a manager from what I’ve seen. Training is incredible – like nothing I’ve experienced before. He’s right up for this and he’s very hungry.”
Swanson started training with Hearts on Monday and impressed Neilson sufficiently to earn a deal. “I’m very delighted to be here. It’s been a hard few days at training but all worthwhile,” said the player, speaking to Hearts TV. “I don’t think I’ve been this happy since I signed for Dundee United, this is how excited I am to be here. I’m looking forward to it.
“The training facility is very good. Some of the players are extremely talented, the young boys especially like [Sam] Nicholson, [Jamie] Walker and [Billy] King. I’m very impressed with them and I’m looking forward to playing with them. I’ve just started a family and all my family are here. It’s massive for me and it’s worked out well.”
Swanson won the Scottish Cup with United in 2010 alongside Morgaro Gomis and Prince Buaben, who are now regulars in Hearts’ midfield. Swanson hopes to establish himself alongside them and play in an attacking central role.
“I like playing through the middle, getting on the ball quite a lot, seeing passes and trying to create things. If need be, I’m happy to play anywhere the manager wants me to, as long as I’m on that pitch. I feel I’m a completely different player now. I’ve got massive experience. Winning the Scottish Cup with Morgaro and Prince helps me come along here. Those two are exceptional players. I’m looking to bring my experience and help boys like Nicholson, Walker and King. ”
One member of Swanson’s family, his late grandfather, was a season-ticket holder at Tynecastle for more than 30 years. “I’m sure he’ll be looking down very proud. He’s my mum’s dad and my mum’s side are all Jambos. He was the biggest of them all. I’m sure he’ll be looking down delighted for me.
“Tynecastle is a very tough place to come. The fans seem like they’re on top of you. It’s not enjoyable if you’re behind, like I was a lot of the time. The fans can really become a 12th man. It’s always somewhere I looked at and thought, ‘I enjoyed playing there’. It’s a great set-up and it’s always nice when it’s full.”