Toby Sibbick overwhelmed by reaction from Hearts fans to win over Rangers

It was a day when first impressions mattered. Toby Sibbick was just in the door on a loan deal that ties him to Hearts until the end of the season and his first game for the Tynecastle club was against a team challenging for the Premiership title.

Hearts' Toby Sibbick. Picture: SNS
Hearts' Toby Sibbick. Picture: SNS

But if fans were impressed by the versatile 20-year-old’s contribution as the Gorgie side secured victory over high-flying Rangers, the player was also wowed.

“Playing my first game on Sunday and getting three points, especially against Rangers - that’s a dream debut for anyone,” said the on-loan Barnsley youngster. “I was buzzing on Monday but now it’s time to put that in the past and focus on games coming up.

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“Coming out of the tunnel and stepping on to the pitch, the fans were just crazy. The singing and chanting and stuff.

“When we scored our first goal the place was booming and when we scored our second goal I had goosebumps, I’ve never experienced that before, with the stands being so close to the pitch. It was great.”

And things haven’t really been any quieter in the days since, with social media ensuring he is aware of the fans’ positive response to his arrival in the capital and early influence.

“My Instagram comments, messages, Twitter, everything has just blown up. I read a few of the messages but sometimes what comes through is just too much. I'm grateful for all the support they are showing me. It means a lot when a young player sees positive comments. Hopefully I can just keep up these performances.

“It's crazy. That's the first time I've ever experienced something like that - just notification after notification on my phone. I'm grateful to the fans who are helping me along on this journey.”

An upbeat view of life at Hearts, the general mood has not always been as bright this term as the team struggled to impose itself and have been left at the foot of the league table as a consequence. But there is a sense that things are changing under the guidance of the man who lured Sibbick north of the border for the second half of this season and there is the opportunity to underline that with a victory over St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park today, which would take them off the foot of the table.

And having worked under Hearts manager Daniel Stendel when he was the boss at Oakwell, and witnessed the way he handled last weekend’s major head to head, Sibbick believes the German has the characteristics needed to fuel an ongoing improvement.

“It’s one of those situations that because we were bottom of the league we had nothing to lose so we went out there with all the freedom and Rangers went out there with a bit of pressure on them because they’re top of the table and fighting for the title.

“The gaffer told us before the game that we’re a very good team and could beat them, he told us to just go out there and believe in that and that’s exactly what we did.

“He always says in training that we’re good players and when a match day comes all the things that we’ve been working on, we believe in.”

Which is why he was delighted to reunite with his former mentor in Edinburgh and why he won’t rule out extending his stay beyond the summer.

“It’s his man-management and faith in me as a player. We have talks and he is always full of praise. He brought me in at Barnsley and he played me and he showed his faith again by bringing me here to help him achieve something. I want to repay the faith and trust that he has shown in me as a young player and hopefully we can stay up.”