Hearts legend John Robertson insists ‘warrior’ Perry Kitchen is an outstanding choice as the new club captain.
The American international midfielder was unveiled as the new skipper on Wednesday after head coach Robbie Neilson made the surprise decision to take that responsibility away from defender Alim Ozturk, who lost his place in the side earlier this season.
All-time Hearts leading goal scorer Robertson, who is also the club’s Business Development Executive, insists the 24-year-old has the drive and personality to lead and inspire his team-mates.
Robertson said: “Robbie obviously looked at the attributes of a captain and someone that is going to be playing more games than not, and Perry looks the outstanding choice.
“He is everything you want in a captain, he’s strong, determined, hard-working in the middle of the park, leads by example, has a great attitude and speaks very well.
“He gets Hearts, he knows what the club is all about, he knows what the fans mean.
“He is one of these guys that loves everything about the club, he embraces what we’re about and on the pitch he’s a warrior.
“He realises it’s a huge honour and he sees it as a badge of honour. He’s not a guy that’s going to swan around the changing room and say: ‘I’m the captain’.
“He’s a guy that has earned the right by pure hard work and sweating blood.
“The Hearts fans love him, they love his attitude, they love his no-nonsense style. He doesn’t shirk anything and I’m sure he will be the same as captain.”
Robertson insists the defensive-midfielder is following in a long-line of notable leaders.
He added: “We seem to like our captains as strong characters – powerful guys.
“When we first started it was the likes of Sandy Jardine, then Craig Levein; Alan McLaren was a very young captain.
“Gary Locke was a very young captain, Alan Anderson, Dave Mackay, John Cumming, Bobby Parker – the list goes on.
“There is no doubt about it that Perry is a leader on the pitch and off it he is a really approachable guy.”
Robertson, meanwhile, admits Neilson’s decision to change the captaincy mid-season shows that the head coach is not afraid to make big calls.
He added: “Robbie’s had to look at the situation and look at players who are playing regularly.
“Don Cowie has come in and done a terrific job as vice-captain and he’s retained that position.
“His performances of late have been sublime. At times, managers are called upon to make difficult decisions and I don’t think this would have been an easy one for Robbie but he’s felt it’s the right thing to do; give the captaincy to a player who he feels will be playing more often than not.”