Not the 5-1 derby, not scoring in Bordeaux, not scoring in Braga - Mark de Vries has surprising answer to most cherished Hearts moment

Striker points to debut European goal as his most cherished memory

By Craig Fowler
Tuesday, 29th September 2020, 12:58 pm
Mark de Vries celebrates after scoring against Zeljeznicar in the first round of the Uefa Cup in 2003. Picture: SNS
Mark de Vries celebrates after scoring against Zeljeznicar in the first round of the Uefa Cup in 2003. Picture: SNS

Mark de Vries played at Tynecastle for two-and-a-half years and wasn’t exactly short of memorable moments.

He gave perhaps the most memorable introduction in the club’s history with a four-goal burst on his full debut against rivals Hibs in a 5-1 victory.

He would be a valuable part of the 2002/03 side which scored multiple late goals throughout the campaign, then go on to score big European goals away to Bordeaux and Braga, with the latter helping Craig Levein’s men to qualify for the group stages of the Uefa Cup.

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However, his most cherished moment in a Hearts jersey was none of the above. Instead, it came in a European tie that most supporters would fail to remember the details of now.

In the first round of the Uefa Cup in 2003, De Vries opened the scoring against Bosnian visitors Zeljeznicar in a 2-0 victory in Gorgie Road.

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For a player battling what would likely be described as ‘imposter syndrome’, this goal was validation above all others that he was a good footballer.

He told the Scarves Around the Funnel podcast: “I didn’t have low self-esteem, but I didn’t think highly of myself. Then I scored my first goal at the European level. That’s when I thought, ‘OK De Vries, if you still don’t think you’re a good player, this is the time to leave those thoughts behind’.

“If you score goals on a European level, nobody will take that away from you. Even if it’s against a smaller team or whatever.

“It was a European goal, it was a European game. I knew this meant something for me as a player.

“It was picking me up from a position where I thought, ‘yeah, I can play some football but am I really good?’ I thought I was just average.

“It made me feel like I was getting into a position where people were not able to say it’s luck or whatever. I was making a name for myself.

“The second year [at Hearts] I think I scored less goals but I was more dominant in games.”

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