Kevin Kyle: I always wanted to play for Hearts
It was third time lucky for Kevin Kyle and Hearts when he was signed by Jim Jefferies in 2010.
In a revealing interview with Open Goal the former striker spoke about his desperation to pull on the Hearts kit and the mind games played by Jefferies in the lead up to the player’s first derby.
Both Craig Levein, in his first spell as Hearts manager, and Csaba Laszlo were keen on bringing Kyle to Tynecastle. But it wasn’t until his former Kilmarnock boss Jefferies and assistant manager Billy Brown returned for his second spell in charge at Tynecastle that he was signed.
Although his patience was tested as the then Hearts manager needed to get the go-ahead from owner Vladimir Romanov, while Mark McGhee offered him a deal at Aberdeen.
“I had always wanted to go to Hearts for some reason,” he told Simon Ferry.
“I was sitting thinking ‘when the f**k is Jim Jefferies going to phone me’. (He said) ‘It’s all up in the air at the moment, I need to speak to Romanov, I need to see what’s going on’. I was like ‘Billy, any chance of speaking to Jim, I’m f*****g desperate to get to Hearts.”
He added: “It was class. If I had started my career at Hearts and finished my career at Hearts I’d have been happy with that. There were such fantastic fans, club.”
Kyle even played a key role in the signing of Irish forward Stephen Elliott.
He recalled: “Jim’s like: ‘I’m gonna need to try and get you a wee striker to play with you’. I said: ‘Gaffer I know the guy. Wee Stephen Elliott I played with at Sunderland. Great wee guy, great for the dressing room, cracking football player’.
“I phoned him to say: ‘I just got you a move to Hearts... Jim Jefferies is going to phone you, tell him you’d love to play with Big Kyle’.”
The players struck up a fine relationship as the team embarked on 11 games without defeat to put them into a strong position to challenge Celtic and Rangers during the 2010/2011 campaign. A run which started following a 2-0 win over Hibs at Easter Road.
Kyle put in a starring performance after some shrewd mind game work from Jefferies.
“The first derby was at Easter Road and again Jim played his psychology games with me,” he said. “The gaffer pulled me in and said: ‘Kevin I’ve just had a phone call from the chairman, he doesn’t want to play you in the derby. You tell me why I should play you in the derby’.
“‘Well gaffer, I’m gonna tell you right now I’m the f*****g best player we’ve got. Whatever you think of big Marius (Zaliukas) or Rudi (Skacel), I’m the best player we’ve got, without me this team folds like a deck of cards.
“For the next three days he is doing shape and I’m not even involved.
“The team got announced, number 9 Kevin Kyle. F*****g hell I am playing! Straight away I was looking at the (Hibs) team. Who’s playing? Sol Bamba. Buzzing. I’ll f*****g drink Sol Bamba.
“Sure enough I had a great game, won everything. Stephen Eliiott scored from a knockdown and we won 2-0.”
Speaking to Jefferies after the game the striker told him he was on the verge of handing in a transfer request prior to the derby.
Kyle recalled: “He said: ‘Don’t be silly you were always playing. I just had to make sure you were 100 per cent up for it’.”
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