Peter Haring explains why he couldn't walk away from Hearts

Torture is nothing new to Peter Haring after his four years at Hearts. A full season out injured and an enforced relegation left the Austrian midfielder reeling, which makes the recovery all the more remarkable.

Friday, 24th June 2022, 10:30 pm

The fruits of Hearts’ collective endeavour over the past two years will become clear in a few weeks when European group stage matches begin. Haring knew he simply couldn’t miss out on the big nights and the accompanying razzmatazz, which is why he agreed a new contract.

Personal injury issues subsided, he helped the club gain promotion last summer and played a key role in securing a Europa League play-off spot this year. Haring has plumbed the depths during his time in Edinburgh and is now fully entitled to scale the heights as a reward for defiance and persistence.

“It’s a reward for last season because we’ve done well enough to qualify for Europe, getting third place,” he explained. “It’s a really exciting time. With the World Cup in the winter, the schedule is going to be even busier. With Europe as well, it’s going to be busier than it has been recently.

“No-one is going to know 100 per cent what it is going to be like because of Europe. I’m looking forward to a new experience for me because I have never played in Europe so far.

He took time to consider his future during a hectic finale to last season before finally signing a one-year extension which carries another year’s option. “That was due to the circumstances as well, fortunately we had such a busy end with big games,” he said.

“You talk for a bit and then want to focus on the football, that’s the reason why it took a bit longer as well. Of course I am happy to re-sign.

“I spoke to the gaffer when he offered me to stay longer and I said: ‘I have been here four years now and I don’t want to rush into anything.’ He was great. He totally understood that but then after thinking about it, it was pretty quickly that I made the decision to stay for longer.”

Peter Haring is happy staying at Hearts.

There were offers from elsewhere as some Continental clubs tried to tempt Haring out of Scotland. “Of course, agents are always working in the background and doing their stuff but there was nothing where I thought: ‘That’s what I would prefer.’ I didn’t think too much about it, I just tried to get it sorted here.

“It was still very early when I re-signed. The transfer window was not even open. The challenging of the coming season with European football and everything, it will be a really busy schedule. That was something that was really attractive to me.”

John Souttar’s departure for Rangers means Haring is now the second-longest serving Hearts player behind Michael Smith. He has been regarded as a senior member of the squad for some time and thrives on the responsibility that goes with it.

The second half of last season saw him regain a regular starting place in manager Robbie Neilson’s team with consistently strong performances. Almost back to his best, you might say.

Haring is also one of the most popular players judging by fans’ reaction on social media when the club confirmed his contract extension. “Not just the supporters but the whole club, I know what a great club this is and can be,” he admitted.

“At the moment it’s really good place to be at. I’ve been here long enough, I went thorough difficult periods a well, everything imaginable has happen in the last four years. I’m really looking forward to a better future.

“I think after Soapy left it is just Mick who has been here longer. It’s no different to how it was last year, if I have to take responsibility it’s no problem for me. If anyone needs anything I’m here for the new players. I have been here for four years now, after Mick the second-longest. I know the ins and outs and quite well.”

Casting the mind back to his arrival from the Austrian second division club SV Ried in 2019, there was no plan to spend this long in the Scottish Capital.

“Of course not, I never thought when I first joined I would be here four years,” smiled Haring. “You don’t know what will happen in football. Even after four years it’s still exciting to be here, to see what is ahead and I’m still proud to be with the club.

“It’s a great place on the football side. The facilities are great, the stadium as well. The fans are unbelievable, as we’ve seen with the season ticket sales. It’s a great place to be at the moment.”

More than 15,500 seats at Tynecastle have been sold for the upcoming season. That figure is a modern-day record and underlines the uprising Hearts are enjoying. The club have created a waiting list for supporters to add their names in order to help satisfy demands.

Players can expect to function in front of a packed stadium every week, although they are fully aware that a certain amount of rotation will take place due to the volume of matches on the fixture list.

“We’ll see how it is when we’re playing those games, how we’re feeling,” said Haring. “I think it’s 25-odd games before the winter break, it’s a lot. There won’t be anyone who will play every game next year. It’s going to a good experience for everyone involved.”

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