New signing Kye Rowles explains Hearts excitement, penalty shoot-out nerves and his meteoric rise
The Australian centre-back agreed to move to Tynecastle on a three-year deal from Central Coast Mariners last month before the deal was approved by an SFA panel.
Having recently made his international debut at the age of 23 there are big things expected of the left-sided centre-back, who can also operate at full-back.
In an interview with ABC Sports show Sports and Spice, Rowles revealed having two countrymen at Hearts (Nathaniel Atkinson and Cammy Devlin) played a significant role in him deciding to move to the otherside of the world.
"I’m super excited. It’s such a big club over there and I can’t wait. I’ve heard great things about the club, the people, the city. I’ve never been to the UK so going to Scotland is going to be a life-changing experience,” he said.
"Definitely having Aussies already over there gave me a positive boost. I asked him [Atkinson] all the questions under the sun when I was with him in Qatar.
"I’ve got nothing but excitement and optimism going over there. I can’t wait. It’s going to be amazing.”
Rowles is currently one of many Aussie football stars on a high after helping the Socceroos reach the World Cup finals with a play-off victory over Peru on penalties.
The entire nation was thankful for the heroics of Andrew Redmayne, who saved the decisive penalty. His team-mate was also incredibly grateful for saving him from a nerve-shredding situation.
"Somehow it was both the longest game I’d ever been a part of and yet it just went by so quickly,” said Rowles.
"I think ever since under-17s, which is obviously a very different level to the Socceroos, I’ve only been in one penalty shoot-out, so it was definitely a new experience for me.
"Luckily I was ninth because the panic was starting to set in. I was so happy with the save because it meant I didn’t have to take one.”
It’s been a whirlwind few weeks for Rowles who, shortly after making the decision to join Hearts, made his international debut in a warm-up friendly against Jordan.
Despite his inexperience, Rowles was kept in the starting XI for the subsequent do-or-die game against the United Arab Emirates with the winner facing Peru for a place at Qatar 2022.
After helping Graham Arnold’s side to a 2-1 win, he was then awarded man of the match for his performance against the South Americans.
"I went over with a mentality… not thinking I’d just be there to make up the numbers, but playing in the UAE game I was just thinking ‘this is crazy’,” he said.
"I thought I’d maybe come off the bench against Jordan, but I started and then played the UAE game, then I played again six days later.
"There was just no time to process what was happening. I was just super focused. Now it’s all hitting at once and I’m just like, ‘what just happened?’
"There wasn’t time for my family to come over, but if I’m lucky enough to be included in the World Cup squad then there will be a pretty big contingent wanting to come.”