DANNY Wilson has turned down the chance of a more lucrative career in the Championship to sign a three-year deal for Hearts, and is confident that the Tynecastle club can overcome their current financial difficulties.
The 21-year-old centre-half, who was on loan from Liverpool during the second half of last season, has agreed a three-year deal to become manager Gary Locke’s first signing of the summer.
“The last four months here was something I have enjoyed,” Wilson said yesterday. “Once you find happiness there is no point in seeking change.
“I’m happy here and I get on well with the boys and the supporters. Hearts were good enough to offer me the opportunity to stay here for another three years and play my football. I was delighted to take it.”
Wilson, who played 14 consecutive matches for Hearts before injury brought his season to a premature end, said that the opportunity to play regularly again had been one of the reasons why he had agreed to join Hearts on a permanent basis. “There was interest from down south, from the Championship. I’ve just moved back up here and I was settled and enjoying my football, so it wasn’t something I wished to seek or pursue.
“I’ve played 14 games on the spin with Hearts and I hadn’t done that for two years. I was more than happy to sign when I was offered the deal. To come back up and play regularly put a smile back on my face.
“I could have made more money elsewhere, but I never really spoke to anybody, because my mind was made up that I was happy enough to continue. I’m happy here, my girlfriend is happy, so I was happy to sign it.” Wilson joined Liverpool from Rangers for £2million in the summer of 2010, but never became established in the first team at Anfield. Even so, he believes he learned a lot from his time there.
“I’ve no regrets at signing for Liverpool and moving to Anfield,” he continued. “I went down there and it didn’t work out, but that happens to a lot of footballers. Bigger and better players than me have done that in their careers, and there’s no shame in it.
“I’m fortunate that I’m 21 and I have the rest of my career to look forward to. I didn’t go and waste a crucial time in my life. I wanted to play more games, but that didn’t happen. I’m at Hearts now and playing football and enjoying it.
“I’ve taken things from the experience of Liverpool and every footballer learns from the environment that they are in. As long as I’m learning and continuing to progress then I don’t see where would be better for me at this moment in time.”
Although Hearts avoided a points penalty last week when the SPL board ruled they had not suffered an ‘insolvency event’, they could begin next season 15 points down if parent company Ubig goes into administration. Wilson sought assurances about the club’s future before he signed, and is confident that even in difficult financial circumstances the squad can improve on the disappointing form they showed in the season just ended.
“I said all along that if the opportunity came along to sign for Hearts I would take it. I did ask the question [about Hearts’ future]. The club have said all along that there’s nothing to concern ourselves with just now. I do read and hear things and it can be unnerving, but the club have given me the opportunity to play here and that was all the assurances that I needed.
“I don’t think the club would offer me a contract if there was no future here. I was happy to sign the deal and I’m just looking forward to next season now.
“You need to prepare for every eventuality, and if [a 15-point deduction] is the case this is something we need to meet head on. There’s no guarantee of that happening next season, so we’ll need to just wait and see.
“A 15-point deduction might make things a bit more difficult. We’ve got a young squad, but if you look at every other team in the country, they’re losing players and going with youth as well.
“We’ll be well prepared because the young players were in the team last season as well. We didn’t have a great season, but the positive thing was the young players performed well, so they’ll have benefitted from that.”
Wilson added that he had benefitted from playing alongside Andy Webster, and said that ideally the partnerhsip would continue next season. “A lot of the talk recently has been about us getting players in, but I think more important than that would be to keep players like Andy Webster,” he said of his fellow-centre-back, whose contract is about to expire.
“I used to learn from him playing in the reserves when I was 16, and I’m still learning from him five years later. So if we can keep him, then great.
“But I also know he’s maybe got his own circumstances.”