Hearts winger Dario Zanatta admits he had been planning to put in a double shift this weekend by playing in two matches within 24 hours.
Before today’s clash at Inverness was called off due to the weather, the Canadian teenager was set to feature in the Highlands before turning out for the Under-20s in the Little Big Shot Scottish Cup quarter-final tie against Queen of the South on Sunday afternoon.
Although still to make his full debut, Zanatta has climbed off the bench in Hearts’ last five league matches and has made a total of six appearances this term.
The form of the 18-year-old has come as a pleasant surprise for both the player and Robbie Neilson, with the Hearts head coach admitting he has had a rethink on his initial plan to send the playmaker out on loan.
But despite getting a taste of first team action, the former Vancouver Whitecaps youngster insists he is still willing to play his part in the Development team.
Zanatta, who joined the club last summer, said: “It just shows that one day you can play for the first team and the next you’re back in the 20s.
“I don’t feel it’s a step down. If I want to keep getting involved in the first team, I have to prove myself in the 20s.
“If I go back to the 20s and think I’m too good, it’s going to look bad on me and I won’t get more opportunities with the first team.
“My initial hope for this season was just to prove myself in the 20s. I thought I’d more or less just be playing for them, maybe just training a little bit with the first team.
“I hoped I’d get a first-team appearance but it wasn’t something I expected.
“It’s been a lot quicker than I expected, just to train with the first team was a big moment for me.
“I got more consistent and, since being on the bench against Dundee United, I’ve gone forward ever since.”
Zanatta insists his brave decision to seek a move abroad is paying off.
He added: “I was in Vancouver and I had to make a decision on where I wanted to go with my future. I always wanted to play in Europe since I was younger.
“I thought this was the best opportunity because I could play for the youth team and push on from there.
“I came over on trial at the end of last season and they invited me back for this year.
“I experienced the last game of the season against Rangers and the celebrations.
“It was really good just to see what was going on and it made me want to come back.”
Zanatta, meanwhile, insists the 150 mile trek to Inverness will not bother him having grown used to long-distance travelling with the Whitecaps.
He added: “People say: ‘Aaargh, three hours to Inverness.’
“I’m like: ‘Three hours, that’s nothing. I’m used to seven hours on a bus to Portland.’
“That wasn’t easy. We flew to California most of the time but Portland was longer.”