Kyle Lafferty hailed the hard work behind Sunday’s stunning 4-0 win over the ‘invincible’ Celtic side that previously swept all others aside before stepping into Tynecastle Park.
The Northern Irish star hit his 11th goal of an increasingly impressive season, in addition to a David Milinkovic double and an historic strike from sixteen-year-old Harry Cochrane as the Jambos beat the champions in style.
Revealing the detail of how well prepared the team were for Sunday’s win, the popular striker admitted he hadn’t seen Celtic as the team they would ‘smash’, but that he was happy to take it. Additionally, as a former Rangers player, Kyle was no stranger to beating Celtic but confessed this win may have been the best he’d experienced.
"I'm speechless to be honest. I've always said everything will click and we'll gel together and we'll smash a team. If somebody had said it would be Celtic I'd probably have laughed in their face but that says a lot about the performance.
"We've worked very hard this week. We watched clips of Celtic, clips of Anderlecht and how they pressed against Celtic and kept them on the back foot. We've basically worked on putting them under pressure and we did that from the first minute to the 94th. They struggled when we were in their faces. If you show Celtic respect, the result could 4-0 to them. We believed in ourselves and the manager believed in the way he set up the team.
"I believed inside the first five or ten minutes that they weren't up for them game. The first time we played Celtic this season, I didn't really fancy them as two centre-halves. Obviously they are great centre-halves but I knew when you put them under pressure there are mistakes in them. I've done that and got a goal. Other players got chances as well. I'm happy with my performance but every player was brilliant.
"I'm lucky enough to have been on the winning side against Celtic a few times but this is probably up there with the best. To be the team to stop them finishing their 70th game unbeaten in a row is one of the best feelings in the world.”
Kyle also had words of praise and support for Harry Cochrane, who went home with the sponsors’ man-of-the-match award, but without the champagne! Raving about the ability and work rate of the young midfielder, who became the club’s youngest ever league goalscorer, Kyle stated that he felt Harry could go all the way to the top.
"I've just watched him collecting a bottle of champagne but he's too young to drink it. He could barely speak because he's shocked. That's Harry. He doesn't say a lot. When he plays for the younger age groups you see he's 16. When he plays for the first team, he just steps up five or six years. He's a brilliant young player. I spoke to him before the game and said: 'These are the games where you make a name for yourself.' What a way to do it.
"He's probably one of the best young players I've seen. When I came to Hearts, he was training. He's 16 and he's light but he works and he's been in the gym. To be honest, I think he forgot to put the weights on the bars but he's going to develop. Hearts have developed a few amazing young players. Even when I was at Rangers they had a tough team full of young players. Harry is going to be up there and if Hearts can keep hold of him for a while they'll do well.”
Finally, after a difficult few months, Kyle opened up about how much the support of everyone at Hearts has meant to him as he continues to deal with his recovery from an addiction to gambling. Thanking the staff and supporters, Lafferty feels he’s found the right club for him.
"Obviously I've come out about my gambling. I've been hiding it for ten to 12 years. My wife, Vanessa, has been the 110 per cent behind me and I'm at a club which has even shocked me, with how much they're behind me. Ann Budge, Austin and the gaffer have been superb. I was a bit afraid to come out in case it affected my relationships with them. They've been behind me and it's made it a lot easier. I know I'm in the right place.”