Hearts’ Arnaud Djoum can’t wait for European football debut

Arnaud Djoum has never played in European club competition before. Picture: SNS
Arnaud Djoum has never played in European club competition before. Picture: SNS
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Hearts midfielder Arnaud Djoum says he is determined to saviour his side’s clash with FC Infonet after waiting a decade for his first taste of European action.

The Jambos open their Europa League qualifying campaign at home to the Estonians on Thursday night.

And while the Tallinn minnows are expected to be a routine test for Robbie Neilson’s side, Djoum admits it will be one of the biggest moments of his career.

The 27-year-old Belgian has long dreamt of competing on the continental stage but has been frustrated more than once.

With former side Roda JC he twice suffered heartache in Holland after losing in the Eredivisie play-offs to reach the Europa League and left Polish outfit Lech Poznan last summer before they landed a glamour European tie with Fiorentina.

But his chance will finally arrive this week at Tynecastle.

“This is the first time for me in Europe, so everything is new,” Djoum said. “Hopefully we can do well.

“I came close twice with Roda and Lech Poznan and I was worried that I might not get my chance.

“But now I’m very excited because it is every player’s dream to play in a European competition. I will try my best and I hope we can go as far as possible because I think we have a good team.

“When you are young and aged 18, you dream of playing in the Champions League but you know in football, sometimes it’s not so easy.

“A lot of things happen but you just have to believe it will come for you. Now it is my time and I’m very happy.

“I want to make sure I can enjoy it as much as possible because this kind of thing can happen maybe once or twice in a career. I’m 27 now and I’ve waited a long time so this is a good moment to do it and I will make the most of it.”

The well-travelled playmaker arrived in Edinburgh last September on a short-term deal and quickly made himself a permanent fixture in Neilson’s side.

It was his third move in little more than 12 months after leaving Roda for short stints with Turkish outfit Akhisar Belediyespor and then Poznan.

Seven goals in his opening Hearts campaign earned him a 12-month extension but he is already pondering a longer stay in the Scottish capital.

Djoum said: “I have moved country a lot in the last couple of years and sometimes you worry about how things will turn out.

“I have a wife and a baby boy and when you have to move country to country it is not easy for them because they have to adjust every time.

“But now it’s good to have some stability.

“Every country is different but I found it not so difficult to settle into Scotland. I am a quiet person and I don’t need a lot of things. If I have my family that is enough for me.

“But the people here impressed me with the way they are. Scottish people in general are really nice and try to help you.

“When I arrived here, I scored a lot of goals and the fans like me a lot. So I am happy to enjoy this moment.

“I’m already talking with the club and my agent to see what we can do. I may stay longer because I need stability.

“Hearts is a good club for me and the people around me - my team-mates and the gaffer - give me confidence. If I have to sign here I will do because there is a really good atmosphere.”

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