Hearts defender John Souttar insists his confidence is coming flooding back after being given a new lease of life at Tynecastle.
In only four starts since completing his switch from Dundee United on transfer deadline day at the start of February, the 19-year-old has already justified his £120,000 price tag.
Souttar, who turned down a £600,000 move to Sunderland in 2013, candidly admits he lost his way at Tannadice amid their fraught relegation battle but insists he is back enjoying his football under Robbie Neilson.
“I think towards the end of my time at Dundee United I wasn’t enjoying myself at all.
“If you’re not enjoying yourself you don’t play the way you want to but it feels like I’ve got a new lease of life here. I feel my confidence is coming back and I’m enjoying myself.
“It was a tough time for anyone at Dundee United to come in and play.
“For me, it was time to move; I’d been there a long time and there was a project set out for me at Hearts.
“Hearts outlined why they believe in me, stuff we’re going to do in training – which is physically really tough.”
Souttar, who will be recognised as a centre-half at Hearts after playing in several positions for United, added: “They invested £120,000 in me and I think that’s massive for a club like Hearts to believe in you. You just want to go out every time and repay their faith.
“They put a lot of demands on you and set standards. The training regime here is second to none, we’re in everyday working hard and recovering.
“That’s what results are built on, it’s not luck that we’re winning these games, it’s hard work.
“I definitely feel a lot fitter and sharper, and a lot more confident.
“I’m looking forward to every game and looking forward to getting on the pitch, and it’s a happy place.”
Souttar handled the physical presence of Mathias Pogba well on Saturday as Hearts won through Arnuad Djoum’s 25th minute header but the teenager admits there is plenty of room for improvement in his game.
He added: “I think I’ve learned a lot since coming in, learning about handling different situations and I felt comfortable out there.
“I was 17 when I last played centre half and there’s big strikers in this league. There’s going to be that long ball and, again, that’s one of the reasons I came here – to improve on that.”