A cult hero already, Uche Ikpeazu couldn’t have asked for a better start to his Hearts career.
Signed in the summer to beef up the attacking options available to manager Craig Levein, his goals, assists and strong stomach for the battle have quickly installed him as fans’ favourite and earned him a regular starting berth in the revamped side.
Also a popular player among his team-mates, he says that there is no fear of him being swept away by the welcome or the early impact he has been making in games.
Transferring from Cambridge United, the Englishman says he has made a step up and as such needs to stay focused and keep developing if he is going prove himself a match for the Scottish top tier.
“There’s high expectations here because it’s a massive club so you’ve got to be consistent. I think playing at a higher level lifts your game. No disrespect to Cambridge, but I’m playing with better players now, which makes me look better. I’m learning here and I’m happy.
“I scored on my home debut which was really good and then scored a couple against Inverness. Goals always give a striker confidence. I haven’t scored in my last couple of games but I have had a couple of assists and I have been helping the team. But I believe there are more goals and assists to come and I am really looking forward to the games coming up.
“My relationship with the supporters has been good so far. I’ve just got to keep working on my game because I haven’t achieved anything yet. The team has had a good start but we haven’t achieved anything yet. I’m not getting carried away with anything.”
Last weekend they combined to carve out a notable victory over the double treble winners, Celtic, with the 23-year-old striker providing the cutback for matchwinner Kyle Lafferty.
“It was great, the best atmosphere I have played in, it was amazing. That’s what you play football for, that’s what you work hard for, but now it’s all about the next game.
“My mum and family were at the game and my cousins and friends all watched it on TV so it’s great exposure and it’s good because people can see you all over the world. It was a great moment but we move on to the next game now.”
That is against Dunfermline, at East End Park this afternoon, where a large crowd including almost 5000 travelling supporters will guarantee another memorable atmosphere as the teams contest their Betfred League Cup tie.
Until now Ikpeazu’s biggest cup experience was a head to head with Leeds United, while at Cambridge. He scored in that one but ended up on the losing side. He would love to find the net today but will settle for a winning scoreline and a place in the last eight.
“We played Leeds at home and I scored. We lost but it was good to score and it was good to play against that level of opposition because you don’t really get that type of test in League Two,” he said. “If we can get a good cup run here, it would be great.
“I heard we’ve sold out the away end, which is great. That’s what we need. The support that we’ve had so far has really helped the team kick on. It’s important for the team and for the club. I haven’t played in front of an away support that size so it’s going to be good. Hopefully we can go and get the result for the fans.”
But despite an unbeaten start to the season, with five wins and a draw, on cup and Premiership duty, there is an understanding that Allan Johnston’s men will not make things easy for them, despite operating in the Championship.
“Dunfermline have done well so far. They’ve won their four cup games and they’ve had a decent start to the season so we can’t go there thinking we’re just going to turn up and beat them.
“None of the lads here is getting carried away – we’re just working hard and doing our job. We’re looking forward to it and hopefully we can get a positive result.
“We have just got to keep our feet on the ground, both individually and collectively, and keep going.”