Hearts’ Aaron Hickey reveals derby joy: ‘My mind went. I just kept running, looking at the fans going nuts.’
A TINY bit of every Hearts fan existed in Aaron Hickey’s Edinburgh derby goal celebration. The 17-year-old galloped across the Easter Road turf like an unhinged madman after scoring Hearts’ late winner. The away stand became a montage of limbs and bodies, the ensuing chaos ignited by a kid who had, quite understandably, lost all control.
Every Hearts supporter would have reacted the same way. Hickey is living out their dreams simply by donning a maroon shirt, so firing a spectacular first senior goal to beat Hibs was the proverbial fairytale. Add in the fact Hearts were bottom of the league, 1-0 down with 20 minutes left and had fans chanting to sack the manager, and it’s a moment worth losing the plot for. A story to tell the children in years to come – and the grandchildren. Little wonder Hickey momentarily went berserk.
In the euphoria, he even forgot which of his feet struck the ball before it deflected off Josh Vela to soar over the Hibs goalkeeper Chris Maxwell into the net. It was, in fact, his right. Nobody really cared. When you hit a strike like that under those circumstances, what do you do? Might as well just run and keep running.
“My mind just went. I kept running, I didn’t know where to go,” the defender told the Evening News. “I just kept looking at the fans going nuts and thinking about my dad, all my family and friends, and how they would be feeling. It was mental. My heart was going rapid. I could see all the fans, I ran over to the boys who were subs and I saw a few of my pals in the crowd. It was amazing. I was just running so fast over to that corner.
“I came into the dressing room and all the boys were praising me and giving me high-fives and things like that. I’m nearly calm now, but it was some experience scoring that goal. Getting it in a derby makes it ten times better.”
Hickey’s mum was in Chicago on Sunday but promised to watch the action. Her celebrations might well have been just as gleeful as her son’s. She may also have been taken aback by the unique build-up to the goal involving Uche Ikpeazu’s left-wing stepovers.
“He had a couple of stepovers and then the ball got to me,” recealled Hickey. “I just took a touch and saw the goal so I thought: ‘Why not have a crack?’ I hit the shot, it takes a slight deflection and ends up going in. Brilliant. My last goal was five months ago against Kilmarnock for the under-18s. It was much different to nearly 4,000 fans going mental. That’s a dream come true for me.
“I played for Hearts when I was younger and I used to watch the Hearts-Hibs derbies thinking: ‘Wow. What would it feel like to play in one of those matches?’ I never imagined me playing in a derby. To score in it is just unbelievable. I remember watching the game when [Alim] Ozturk scored in the last minute almost from the halfway line. I watched the games when Rudi Skacel scored a lot against Hibs. I remember the Scottish Cup final at Hampden when Hearts won 5-1.”
Ironically, he probably would not have been in position to score Sunday’s winner had Hearts not changed tactics just after the hour mark. Hickey was switched from right wing-back to left full-back as the visitors changed to a four-man defence and quickly took command with Hibs leading 1-0.
“I was switched to left-back and I had to stay a bit deeper. The score was still 1-1 so we still had to try and get another goal. I decided to stay up the pitch a bit and luckily the ball came to me,” said Hickey. Like the rest of the Hearts squad, he has little time for basking in glory with Aberdeen due in Gorgie tomorrow evening for a Betfred Cup quarter-final.
“The season starts now. We have to move on from this,” he said. “I need to get back to the usual and get my game head on again. I still have to take the kit, balls and mannequins out for training each morning. That’s just normal for me - keep the head down and work hard.
“All the young boys have these jobs to do and rightly so. We are young players and, although we are in training with the first team, we have to keep calm and keep our heads.”
You are occasionally allowed to lose it for a wee bit, though. Like when you bang in a winner against Hibs.