Kyle Lafferty has set his sights high as he eyes a place in the club’s history books.
A quarter of a century has passed since a Hearts player amassed 20 goals in a season and few have come close in the interim.
The man responsible for that haul, back in 1992, was the club’s record goalscorer John Robertson and living up to his accomplishments has proved beyond the strikers who have followed. But the club’s latest frontline recruit believes he could be the man to finally offer a sizeable return.
“It’s a challenge. But can I do it? Yes,” said Lafferty. “I think if I’m the person that I know I can be – happy on and off the field – and my team-mates believe in me, then I think I can do that easily. If I’m getting chances, I’ll put them away. I’m liking the sound of trying to become the first striker to score 20-odd goals [since Robertson]. I’ve never been one to set targets, but I think coming here, knowing I can score goals, it is exciting that they have put that trust in me to be the man who can take them to those heights.”
In the past 25 years Robertson himself came close to repeating that 1992 tally, with 19 in 1997, while Rudi Skacel weighed in with 18 in 2012, but, at times, it has been a struggle for the side’s main target men to break into double figures. Lafferty, though, is imbued with confidence and is looking forward to opening his account.
He says he wants to repay the positivity of the coaching staff and the club’s hierarchy but he also knows that a goal glut is one way to silence his critics. Thanks to his previous spell in Scotland and his very public snub of Hearts’ city rivals Hibernian, he is acutely aware that he now has a few of those.
“I’ll be expecting my usual reception on the first game of the season – the Celtic fans love me! But football is the same all over – you get abuse and the only way to shut them up is to score goals. But I can’t wait to go back to Celtic Park and Ibrox. I’m 100 per cent committed to Hearts. I will give my all to get goals no matter who it is against.”