Garang Kuol admits he was blown away by his Tynecastle welcome – and he’s determined to repay fans by becoming a smash hit at Hearts.
The Aussie youngster got a thunder reaction when lobbed on late in Friday’s 1-0 win against St Mirren as the third place Jambos stretched their lead on the pack. Kuol has had a whirlwind few months after making a huge impression at the World Cup with the Socceroos and winning a glamour move to Newcastle United. The 18-year-old was immediately sent north to spend the rest of the season gaining experience in Gorgie and he lapped up his first taste of life in Edinburgh.
Kuol said: “The atmosphere was nice and the fans were amazing. It was a good win for the boys. The support was unreal and I’d like to thank the fans for coming out. They gave the boys a push and it was a nice hard-fought win.
“It’s a special crowd and when you get an atmosphere like that, with people supporting you, it lifts you up.”
Kid Kuol admitted his head was spinning after an incredible recent spell but he’s convinced he’s made the right call coming to Hearts after boss Robbie Neilson sold him on his Jambos dream. The former Central Coast Mariners attacker jumped at the chance to join fellow Maroon Aussies Cammy Devlin, Nathanial Atkinson and Kye Rowles and he said: “I’m just trying to focus on the future, and playing and training well every week. That’s the main focus.
“Sometimes I’m sitting and thinking: ‘I can’t believe I’m actually here’. It’s just surreal and I just have to thank God.
“It was the gaffer’s desire to help me develop. Hearts is a great club and I thought this was the best place to be for my development.
“There are a great bunch of lads here and I thought this was the best decision for me. Cam is top player, Rowlesy as well and Nathaniel. Seeing the quality that they have gives me confidence to come in and do the same.”
Kuol only checked in with the Magpies at the start of the month but Toon boss Eddie Howe has a plan for the youngster and Neilson is on board up here. The striker said: “I had small discussion with him (Howe) and he said go wherever you’ll play the most. Development is key for young players. The gaffer here convinced me to come because he said he’ll play me.
“All he said I need to do is work hard. The gaffer told me he’ll bring me off the bench and then gradually I have to work my way into the starting XI.”
Kuol only had a 10-minute cameo in the hard-fought Saints win but showed signs of his class when he teed up Stephen Humphreys late on for a late opportunity to grab a second. The kid had only just met the squad but he’s already impressed with his teammates and can’t wait to forge a strike partnership with top marksman Lawrence Shankland.
Kuol said: “He is a top striker and I am happy to have him by my side. There is a lot I can learn from him.”