Billy King admits he was desperate to make his loan switch to Rangers – because he feared his career was stalling at Hearts.
King made a surprise six-month move to Rangers from Tynecastle on Thursday and made himself an instant Ibrox hero when he came off the bench to head a last-gasp winner in Saturday’s Ladbrokes Championship clash with Falkirk.
Hearts say they expect to see the 21-year-old winger back in Edinburgh when the season closes but both the player and Rangers manager Mark Warburton have refused to rule out a permanent signing if he continues making the kind of impact he produced against the Bairns.
For the meantime, though, King is just glad to be looking at a chance of regular first-team action after a frustrating season under Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson. He said: “I’ve only started seven league games this season for Hearts, that’s compared to last season when I started loads of games.
“So I felt like I needed to get out because it was stalling my development. That’s when Rangers came along.
“It all got sorted out in a day. I’m just glad to be here. I came on and got the winner so I’ve got off to a good start.
“Hopefully I can keep playing and see what happens. The gaffer at Hearts gave me his best wishes when I left and told me he thought Rangers would be a good loan move for me. I’ve not really spoken to him since I’ve left though.
“I don’t have a clue what will happen in the summer. Obviously the move only happened a couple of days ago so I’m just concentrating on doing my best for Rangers.”
Saturday’s 1-0 win moves Rangers eight points clear of second-placed Hibernian, although the Edinburgh men have played a game less.
King was a Championship title winner with Hearts last term and believes he can now help his new team emulate the feat this season.
“To score the winner in the 89th minute, there is no better feeling,” said the Scotland Under-21 cap. “It was a rare header for me – that’s probably the weakest part of my game. I’d only scored one goal with my head before and it was against Falkirk last season.
“It’s a massive three points because it was a stuffy game and over the course of the season you are not going to play your best in every game. But the most important thing is to win. That’s what we did today.
“I came in and trained for about 45 minutes. I’m still getting to know the boys here and to learn the philosophy. It was difficult because Hearts play a different style. It will take me a few weeks to get into the swing of things and to know how the gaffer wants me to play. I won the title with Hearts but I play for Rangers now and want to help them win it this time.”
Defeat for Falkirk leaves them ten points behind the leaders but manager Peter Houston says he can take solace from his side’s progress.
“It’s hard to take – it was cruel – but football can be like that,” he said. “Maybe I’m biased but I felt their keeper had more saves to make than ours did. However, I think that shows you how far Falkirk have come over the last year that it takes a goal in the 90th minute at home for Rangers – a team who are putting four and five past sides every week – to beat us.”