Rising Scotland U21 star Chris Hamilton happy to stay in shadows

Scotland U21's Chris Hamilton in training. Picture: Ross MacDonald/SNS
Scotland U21's Chris Hamilton in training. Picture: Ross MacDonald/SNS
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Hearts teenager Chris Hamilton admits he’s been overshadowed at the Toulon Tournament by Scotland’s other exciting 16-year-old prospect Billy Gilmour. But he insists that’s just the way he likes it.

The young Scots lost in the semi-finals on Wednesday as two-in-a-row champions England beat them at that stage for the second year in a row.

Scotland now have a third and fourth place play-off game to prepare for tomorrow against Turkey, while England face Mexico in the final.

Scotland boss Scot Gemmill insisted there were plenty of positives from the tournament, not least the emergence of two 16-year-olds in his team.

Chelsea midfielder Gilmour again showed his maturity and potential in an impressive display in Aubagne, where he matched older players like full England international and captain Lewis Cook.

Hamilton – who turns 17 next week – would have taken plenty of headlines himself for being one of the youngest players ever to feature for Scotland Under-21s had Gilmour not been in France.

But he is delighted at his 
rapid progress, having only made his debut for the Tynecastle side on the last day of the season against Kilmarnock at Rugby Park. And he insisted that he is not yet tempted to follow former Rangers youngster Gilmour’s route of leaving a Scottish club to develop down south

Hamilton said: “It’s all happened for me just at the season end. It’s been good because I have worked hard all season and I’ve got my rewards at the end of it.

“Obviously, Billy has come in and trained very well and I think that’s why he has got his chance against France. He’s done exceptionally well and the focus has been on him which I don’t mind. He’s done really well and I share a room with him so I am delighted 
for him.

“I don’t like getting involved too much in the limelight. It’s nice to get a mention but I tend to stay out of it. We get along really well. We’ve been in the Under-17s squads together so it’s been good to get to know him a bit better.

“As for offers to follow 
Billy, it was something I spoke to my agent about at the start of the season before I signed my pro contract. For me I was just concentrating on 
playing for Hearts because it’s a great place to be and it wasn’t an option for me to go down south.

“I was happy at Hearts anyway with the young boys in the team doing so well and I got my chance at the end of the season, too. Hearts are the only place I wanted to be. Going to England wasn’t something I looked at. My agent said it’s something we could talk about, but I’d rather not know about it yet. I need to work hard at Hearts and it’s maybe something I would look at in the future.

“I’ve enjoyed it here in France. I’ve tried not to think too much of playing with the likes of Oli Burke who has played at a high level. I’ve just tried to make the most of playing and training with guys like him and Anthony Ralston, who is more in my position. Watching them and speaking to them – just trying to take little bits from them that I can use in my own game.”

Hamilton accepts he is not as tall as most centre halves – his preferred position – and may have to settle on playing at right-back.

But he doesn’t accept his lack of inches will hold him back from making it as a player.

He said: “My mum and dad aren’t the biggest so I am not sure how much I am going to grow. I’m not going to let it affect me. If this is as much as I grow then that’s fine. I’ll make the most of it. If I grow an extra whatever then great, but I don’t ever think about it.

“The height might be a factor in my eventual position, but I have spoken to the coaches at Hearts on many occasions and they’ve said they are not worried about it. For me I’m happy playing at centre-half or right-back. Centre-back is probably my favourite position because I’ve played there for a while now. I’ve not played right-back consistently.

“Hopefully, if I can go on being a centre-half, a smaller centre-half it’s something that people can look at and think if I can do it then it’s possible. I don’t think it will hold me back, I wouldn’t like to think it’s a barrier.”