Peter Haring reveals why Hearts move led to the best year of his career

Peter Haring is one of Hearts’ undoubted success stories of season 2018/19. Plucked from obscurity in Austria’s second division, the centre-back has been converted into an imperious holding midfielder in Scotland. The move has worked out rather well for both club and player.

Wednesday, 29th May 2019, 6:31 am
Peter Haring celebrates after Hearts went one up against Celtic at Hampden

A total of 37 appearances, seven goals, a League Cup semi-final and a Scottish Cup final outing amount to the most enjoyable year of Haring’s career to date. There have been difficulties with hernia and groin injuries, plus the frustration of finishing sixth in his first season in the Ladbrokes Premiership, but nothing to quash the Austrian’s joy.

He reflected on a season of exhilarating experiences as he prepared to rest and recuperate during the close season. In a month’s time he and his colleagues will be back at Riccarton ready to begin pre-season training once again.

The decision to invoke a clause in his contract at former club SV Ried to leave last summer has proved extremely fruitful. Haring’s wisdom in doing so proved sound.

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Peter Haring has endured an injury-interrupted season

“This has probably been the season I have enjoyed the most in my career,” he told the Evening News. “Of course it was hard sometimes with the injuries and everything that happened to the team. We did so well at the start of the season, then we fell down a little bit.

“I wouldn’t say it was my hardest season. It was definitely the season I enjoyed the most out of them all. I will definitely remember all the moments from this season for the rest of my life.”

Next season he wants to exceed this year’s exploits and bring silverware back to Tynecastle Park. Saturday’s 2-1 Scottish Cup final defeat by Celtic left Hearts shattered despite fans rightly showing pride at their team’s performance. The natural next step is to win a trophy, according to Haring.

“Definitely. Once you experience a cup final and see what happens, it’s incredible,” he explained. “When you go out onto the pitch before the game, it was just amazing. The more you see that, the more you want to feel it again and experience it again. I want to go back to Hampden next season.”

The 25-year-old’s sole focus for the last six weeks of the campaign was ensuring he was ready for the final. A groin complaint sidelined him after the semi-final victory against Inverness Caledonian Thistle and he did not appear on a Hearts teamsheet until he arrived at Hampden.

The effort was worth it to play in his first major cup final, despite the disappointing outcome. “The second half of the season was quite frustrating for me. I had a rest five weeks ago but I put pressure on myself to be ready for the cup final,” he said.

“I think we all need the summer now, not only me. It has been a long season. Even though I was injured, I have never played as many games as this season. I think we all need a break.”

Thankfully, he suffered no negative reaction to his first outing in six weeks. Haring was visibly jaded during the second half and it was no surprise to see him substituted for the Australian Oliver Bozanic with nine minutes remaining. By then, he had expended every last ounce of energy within his body.

“My injury is fine. I did not train or play very much for a few weeks so you could see I got a little bit tired, especially in the second half. That’s why I told the gaffer to take me off and get some fresh legs into the game,” he said.

“It was my first final and of course there is frustration that we lost. It was also the first final for a lot of the boys so it will take some time to realise what happened. We want to make sure we get to more finals.”

Haring explained how taking the lead through Ryan Edwards’ 52-minute opening goal left the Hearts players slightly spooked about how to proceed for the remainder of the match.

“We stuck to the gameplan. We had a clear idea of how we wanted to hurt Celtic, how we expected the game to be and how we wanted to win,” he remarked.

“I think it worked quite well for a long time. Celtic did not really create many chances from open play so we were quite comfortable, especially at 1-0.

“That’s the first moment when you start thinking: ‘There is actually something to lose.’ Before that, you are just going into the game, try as hard as you can and you don’t think too much about it. After you go 1-0 up, you start thinking a little bit. That’s what happened to us.”

He did not detect nerves, however. Celtic equalised within ten minutes through Odsonne Edouard’s penalty, and the Frenchman won the cup for Celtic with a well-taken winning goal eight minutes from full-time. “I don’t think we were nervous at 1-0, not really. It’s just human and normal that you start thinking,” said Haring.

“Sometimes when you are 1-0 up it gives you an extra push. I don’t think the game was different after goal but the penalty given against us changed the game. I didn’t really see what happened at the second goal because it was just after I went off. It was definitely frustrating at the end of the match.

“We can be proud a little bit but there are mixed feelings. I don’t know whether to be sad or not. I suppose we will decide that over the coming days and months when we look back at the final.”

One thing is certain: Haring will reflect on his first year in Scotland with huge satisfaction.