Hearts' Kyle Lafferty has not come down from cloud nine after Sunday’s 4-0 win over Celtic that previously swept all others aside before visiting Tynecastle. Lafferty scored gaol number 11 in an impressive season, in addition to a David Milinkovic double and an historic opening goal from sixteen-year-old Harry Cochrane as the Jambos eased past the champions in style. It was not as if Hearts just turned up, and Lafferty recognised all the hard work in preparation ahead of Sunday’s win. He had never considered Celtic as the team they would ‘smash’, but that he was happy to take it. Lafferty has been involved in wins over Celtic in the past but confessed this win may have been the best he’d experienced.
He said: "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."
Lafferty went on: "I believed inside the first five or ten minutes that they weren't up for the 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."
Lafferty was also full of praise for team-mate Cochrane, who went home with the sponsors’ man-of-the-game award, but without the champagne as he is under-age! Cochrane became the club’s youngest ever league goalscorer and Lafferty can see him going all the way to the top. He said: "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."
After a difficult few months, Lafferty also touched on 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. He went on: "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."