Andy Driver insists he can leave Hearts with his head held high after experiencing “the greatest day of his life” as the Jambos cruised to Scottish Cup glory last year.
The 25-year-old this week agreed to join MLS side Houston Dynamo on loan until the end of the season before a permanent contract starts in the summer.
Driver’s departure follows an underwhelming few years from the gifted winger, who was plagued by injuries throughout 2010 and struggled to ever recapture the blistering form of his early years in maroon.
However, he did play a starring role in Hearts’ 5-1 win over Hibs in the Hampden showpiece of last season as Paulo Sergio’s side won the first all-Edinburgh cup final in 116 years in spectacular style. For that reason, says Driver, he will only have fond memories of his 13 years in Gorgie.
“You should see the wall in my house – it is a shrine to the cup final,” he smiled. “It was the best day of my life and I’m sure the best day of a lot of other people’s lives. I can go away with those memories and having achieved something special.
“The whole experience was incredible. Those games are the ones you want to play in and I am happy that I can leave with my head held high after that game.
“To achieve what we did that day was amazing. It was a good day for me, one of those days where everything came off.”
The Oldham-born wide-man’s showing at the national stadium on 19 May, tormenting the hapless Matt Doherty, brought back memories of Driver’s scintillating early form for Hearts after breaking into the first team in 2006.
Hearts placed a £4 million price tag on the precocious winger at the height of his powers as Burnley attempted to sign the player. Coventry and FC Twente were also credited with notable interest. While such a lofty price-tag would be unrealistic now, Driver believes he has overcome his injury woes and is returning to something approaching his dynamic best.
“A couple of years ago my injuries affected me and I have spent the last couple of seasons getting over it,” he admitted. “But I genuinely believe I was starting to get back to some sort of form in the past few months. Hopefully I can use that and kick on from here, taking the form and fitness of the last year into my new challenge.”
Driver leaves Edinburgh after joining the club as a fresh-faced 12-year-old, racking up 168 appearances for the Jambos. Only Jamie MacDonald boasts similar longevity.