Pursuit of happiness persuades Kevin Kyle to sign with Hearts

DESPITE shunning six-figure sums and the lure of lavish homes and cars to join Hearts, Kevin Kyle says he was probably the happiest he has ever been as he signed a two-year deal with the Tynecastle club last week.

Meeting the media for the first time since joining the Gorgie club he said his family and friends had labelled him stupid to turn his back on the huge deals on offer abroad, but the player who has faced demons in the past argued that he placed a higher premium on personal and professional happiness.

"Turkey, Greece, Russia, China, Hungary and England were my options in the end. At one point I was offered 250,000 net. I definitely did consider it. Money-wise it is too much just to turn away from – I don't know where some of these foreign teams get their cash from.

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"I said to my missus Lynn 'imagine going out there for two years, earning that kind of money and coming back. We will have a better life and things like that'. But she said money wasn't the most important thing. She didn't want to go."

But with the couple expecting a baby in January and Kyle keen to retain regular contact with his son Max from a previous relationship, he said he decided there was no reason to unsettle when he was certain he would be just as content in a Hearts team he is confident can challenge the Old Firm for trophies.

"Sometimes in life money is not everything. I know a lot of people disagree with that but I had all the money years ago when I played with Sunderland and Coventry and I p***** it up a wall gambling. So money doesn't always make you happy.

"The happiest I have been was the first year at Kilmarnock, playing football and knowing what my wage was. Hopefully I will get that same feeling playing for Hearts.

"It is hard to turn that kind of thing down. My dad thinks I am daft, my mum thinks I am daft. My wee brother thinks I am really stupid. But at the end of the day I have a massive smile on my face here and hopefully that will continue for the next two years."

He was also attracted by the opportunity to link up with his former Kilmarnock management team of Jim Jefferies and Billy Brown at a club he described as "one of the biggest teams in Scotland".

That status has been undermined on the park in the past couple of seasons as the club struggled to score goals on a regular basis.

Kyle, despite playing through injuries and operating within a relegation-threatened side, weighed in with 10 and is determined he can address Hearts' Achilles heel and help the Edinburgh side back into the higher echelons of the SPL.

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Sixteen goals in 43 league appearances for Kilmarnock represented the best ratio of goals per game of the Scotland international's career and he is so keen to get off to an even more prolific start at Hearts that he has spent the past five days at the Riccarton training centre in an attempt to ensure he is in peak condition when the new campaign kicks off. "I just want to make sure I am right for the start of the season," he said. "I want to make a good start because it is an important move for me and Jim has put a lot of faith in me. I don't want to let him or the Hearts fans down but I am confident I will do well. I might be the missing link.

"When I played against Hearts it was always just a goal in it here or there. They have been crying out for a centre forward with a bit of experience and hopefully I will be that person.

"We have good wingers here in Suso and Andy Driver. I have played against them and they are good players. If they get crosses in, I will get on the end of them."

While international ambitions have been put on the back burner, he admits that they do still simmer within him and he hopes he can re-ignite them with the kind of consistent goal grabbing that will help him and the club.

"Hearts should be the team that finishes third behind Celtic and Rangers and I'd like to think that's what we can do next season, and even see how close we can get to the Old Firm. Dundee United did a great job last season and hopefully we can be the team to do it next season."