Jorge Grant confesses how close he was to leaving Hearts and whether players discuss fan unrest in dressing room

Beating Kilmarnock and reaching the Viaplay Cup semi-finals was a big moment for all at Hearts given the recent discontent among the club’s fanbase, but the game had added significance for midfielder Jorge Grant.
Jorge Grant opened the scoring for Hearts in their 2-1 win away at Kilmarnock.Jorge Grant opened the scoring for Hearts in their 2-1 win away at Kilmarnock.
Jorge Grant opened the scoring for Hearts in their 2-1 win away at Kilmarnock.

The 28-year-old was handed his first start of the season at Rugby Park and repaid boss Steven Naismith’s faith with the opening goal in the 2-1 win. Grant’s last strike came way back in March and chances have been limited under the current management team, to the point that the ex-Peterborough United man was on the cusp of leaving over the summer. He hopes a change of fortunes is on the way after finding the net in such a crucial match.

"Naisy has been totally honest with me from day dot,” revealed Grant, who signed a three-year deal in the summer of 2022. “He said that my chances will be limited so I knew that, when I get the opportunity, I need to perform and I feel like I did all right on Tuesday.

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"I was close to leaving towards the end of the window. It's one of those things - I want to play football. That's why I was looking elsewhere. Things don't happen sometimes and that might work in my favour now with getting a game. Hopefully I can get a run of games as well. I feel I know my own abilities and I feel I can help the team. It's down to me proving that to him, then getting the opportunity, then doing it on the pitch.

"I feel like I train well on the time. I always work hard, so that's down to me on the training pitch to prove to the gaffer that he does need me in the team. Then, when I get the opportunities to come on off the bench or start like Tuesday night, then I show him what I've got."

Grant was deployed in a No 10 role, just behind main striker Lawrence Shankland. Known as a goalscoring midfielder during his time in League One down south, the Englishman feels that is his best position. “That's where I can bring my best football,” he said. “Tuesday night was a bit different because there were a lot of long balls and winning second balls. I was trying to find those pockets for myself to help out the team and, obviously, get a goal. There were moments when I probably could have done better in the final third but that comes with playing games.”

Grant’s task was made more difficult by the backdrop to the match, with fans showing their distrust with the current Hearts regime with banners outside Tynecastle and then in the away end on Tuesday night. “No,” Grant responded when asked if the players talk about the supporters’ disgruntlement. “We just know that we need to be better on the pitch and that will get the fans onside. We look at ourselves first and then do what we need to do on the pitch.

“We need our supporters. We need them on our side. It's about us making things happen on the pitch and getting them off their seats. I think we did that on Tuesday night. Hopefully they can be with us.”

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