Craig Wighton will always be remembered in Dundee for the derby goal he scored to relegate rivals United.
His injury-time winner in that head-to-head three years ago earned him a lasting spot in football folklore but when he returns to Dens Park with Hearts this afternoon, he will not allow sentiment to stop him from celebrating if he manages to net against his former club.
“It would be nice to score for Hearts so it’s not just that goal [people associate with me],” said Wighton. “It’s all anybody speaks about. It was a nice moment at the time for me and my family but it was a while ago now so I don’t think about it too much.
“I’d like to think it’ll be a nice reception but it doesn’t bother me too much, as long as we go up there and get the three points. The frustrating thing for me is when I have played, I’ve not scored yet and the longer it goes on, the more frustrating it gets so if I do play or come on, I’ll be looking to score.”
Desperate to carve out another unforgettable moment in a still-fledgling career that has stuttered slightly, he says that rather than worry if it would be disrespectful to the Dark Blues for him to go wild if he scores, he believes he would be doing his current employers a disservice if he did not express his jubilation at grabbing his maiden goal for the Gorgie club.
“I’m at Hearts now,” says the 21-year-old attacker, who came through the ranks at Dundee and made eight appearances for them at the start of the season, before taking on a new challenge at Hearts at the end of August. “I appreciate what Dundee did for me but if I score my first goal for Hearts I’m going to celebrate!”
With only four starts and five sub appearances for the Tynecastle side thus far, opportunities were curtailed by an ankle injury, while the management team also believed that he had work to do to ensure he was ready for a more sustained run in the first team.
“I don’t think the Hearts fans have seen anything of me yet, if I’m honest,” he added. “The games I played in, we were on a bad run and I never performed. Then I got injured. It was disappointing but it’s given me time to work on other things and settle in.”
His only frustration now is that there are so few games left to make a major impact. “I’m starting to feel good and fit so it’s a bit frustrating. But there’s important games and hopefully I’ll get the call. It’s good to have these games. I’ve been in positions before when there’s not really much to play for by this stage but we’ve got a lot to play for and it’ll be a tough game on Saturday, and you want to be fit and ready when asked to play.”
Having endured an up-and-down time in recent weeks, Hearts are now being chased down by derby rivals Hibs but Wighton insists that no one in the football department is looking over their shoulder, not when there are teams ahead of them they are intent on overhauling.
“We’re definitely looking up the way because we can still catch teams above us,” said Wighton. “That’s what we’ve got to aim for but we’ll need to take it a game at a time. With the squad we’ve got and the players we’ve got we’re more than capable of competing until the end of the season.”
He hopes that Dundee are able to do that too and, ultimately, avoid the drop. But he wants them to wait until after this afternoon’s encounter to start picking up the points they need. “I wouldn’t like to see that happen to the staff there. It’s never nice to see anybody go down or lose jobs or whatever,” he added. “Hopefully they can stay up but hopefully we can get the three points on Saturday and then they do well after that.
“I’ve got good memories from my time there but I’m at Hearts now and if I get the chance to play I’ll be looking to get off the mark but it’ll be nice to be back there and speak to people after the game.”
Though bottom side St Mirren may have moved to within a point of Dundee, Dens Park goalkeeper Seny Dieng insists that he is not feeling the pressure.
The 24-year-old Swiss, on loan from QPR, said: “No, we still have to do the same as we did before, whether St Mirren win or not. We don’t feel the pressure, we just have to keep on going and doing our best.
“At the minute we are in the situation where it is on us if we stay up or not. So we don’t have to worry about what they are doing, we just have to do our best and pick up as many points as we can.”
“We are improving and we have to keep that going and I am sure we will get out.”