Prince Buaben insists Hearts should treasure Ann Budge in the wake of news that the club will be remaining at Tynecastle.
The club owner’s popularity levels increased further among the Jambos fraternity when she confirmed at Thursday’s annual general meeting that the club will be staying at their spiritual home and building a new stand ahead of the 2017/18 campaign.
Buaben is thrilled at this state of affairs and hailed Budge for the way she has gone about rebuilding the club since taking it out of administration 19 months ago. The midfielder has been particularly impressed by the way she communicates with all her staff and endeavours to foster togetherness within the club.
“When new owners come in, they always change things to do it their her own way, and Ann has been amazing,” he said. “She’s really good. I’ve met her a few times and she’s a really good woman who helps all the players in different situations off the pitch.
“She really wants to understand what is important. She doesn’t just talk to us about what happens on the pitch, she wants to talk to us about other stuff as well.
“She gets involved in helping out kids and charities, and she was out turning on Christmas lights [at Burnbrae primary school in Bonnyrigg] the other night. She does a lot of good things and has a focus beyond football. That’s important, because for us sometimes it’s important to get away from football. We are lucky to have her as an owner, really lucky.”
Buaben is proud to be part of a club that embraces its community, with Budge setting the tone.
“This is the best family club I’ve been to,” he said. “We do things off the pitch, working with kids, visiting schools. It helps us to forget about football sometimes, too, even if it’s helping kids and setting an example.
“I don’t think this comes just from Ann, it’s from the manager and Craig Levein, this desire to help other people, not just focus on the club. We also normally train at Tynecastle on a Friday and then all eat together with the rest of the club staff. You need that togetherness in football, focusing on things that matter.”
Buaben believes the sense of unity at Hearts was underlined at the end of last weekend’s 2-2 draw at Motherwell when the players threw their Foundation of Hearts tribute jerseys, which they had just worn for the first time, into the crowd.
“In football, you play for the fans every week,” he said. “That’s the same at every club, not just Hearts. But here, the fans are very close – look at how they have helped the club so much. Little things like putting the names of fans on the strip, that can make them feel great about what they’ve done. To then give some of those shirts away last week, that would make them really, really proud.
“After games, if you have a win, it’s nice to give your shirt away anyway. Some small kid, that could change things for him.”