Gary Oliver believes that the status of being a Hearts player has helped him earn international recognition - and now he wants to claim a regular spot in the Tynecastle first team.
The striker started Wednesday’s Scotland Under-19s friendly with Switzerland in the lone striker’s role and scored his side’s opening goal in a 4-2 win.
Despite only playing seven times for Hearts this season, Oliver feels that the club’s reputation for developing young talent helped seal his inclusion in the squad.
“It’s always a dream to play for your country ever since I was a wee boy,” the 18-year-old said. “It was an honour and to score a goal was brilliant.
“Hearts are well known for bringing boys through the ranks so I think playing for this club helped me get into the Scotland ranks and I’m thankful for that.”
The Scottish Premiership’s bottom side have been forced to rely on their young players this season after entering administration in the summer and suffering a transfer embargo.
It meant a surprise ascension into the first team even though he has yet to hold down a regular spot, although he is again set to make the squad for Saturday’s Scottish Premiership clash at Kilmarnock.
His team-mate in the Scotland under-19s’ victory, Sam Nicholson, was in a similar position and has recently managed to get a regular starting role. Oliver could have made a similar impact were it not for a stroke of misfortune.
“I started against Inverness and done the ligaments in my foot in the first minute, though I stayed on and played for 70 minutes,” he said. “I was out for three weeks after.
“It was a bit frustrating, it took me all that time to get myself into the first team and then I get injured. It pushed me back a couple of steps.
“Coming into this season I didn’t think I’d get my chance in the first team, so obviously it’s been great.
“Hopefully if I keep working hard I can regain my place back in the team.”