Alim Öztürk admitted he couldn’t quite believe what had just happened as his astonishing strike saw Hearts tie a dramatic Edinburgh derby in stoppage time to keep the Jambos unbeaten in the Scottish Championship.
Down to ten men after Callum Paterson’s red card, and behind to Dominique Malonga’s opportunist strike, Alim strode forward into the Hibs half and absolutely zinged the ball from nearly 40 yards out, the ball crashing off Mark Oxley’s crossbar and into the net to send the away support into a state of rapture.
After the match, the Turkish defender explained how his wonder goal had come about, and what prompted him to even think about shooting from so far out.
“For sure, that’s the best goal I’ve ever scored, definitely”, he said with a beaming smile. “Prince gave me the ball and, because it was so late in the game, I thought that if I could get the ball I would shoot.
“There was nobody in front of me, and so I hit it and it was amazing. I practice long shots in training but this was… this was really far out. I just had a feeling that I should shoot.
“In training when I shoot, they laugh at me but they won’t laugh any more! Now I can shut them up because I can say ‘remember when I scored against Hibs’ and I’ll say ‘yeah that’s right’ so I’ll try it again!”
The late leveller ensured Hearts maintained their excellent start to the league season. Having learned about just how hostile the rivalry between the sides can be, Alim disclosed that the team were delighted with the result in the end.
“It was important not to lose today. It wasn’t an easy game, with ten men too in the last 10 minutes. We didn’t have a lot of chances today so when you get a 1-1 in the last minute you have to be happy.
“It’s unbelievable to score because I know Hibs and Hearts are not friends, I know how important it is to our fans. We have a lot of good players, and I hope we can hold together and keep winning more games now”.