Perry Kitchen honoured to be new Hearts captain and insists Alim Ozturk was quick to congratulate him



Hearts midfielder Perry Kitchen admits he is honoured to have been named captain of a club steeped in such rich history, and insists the deposed Alim Ozturk was quick to congratulate him.

Head coach Robbie Neilson has taken the decision to strip defender Ozturk of the armband, with the Dutch-born Turkish defender having made only one domestic appearance so far this season.

Neilson also decided to overlook Don Cowie for the role, even though the 33-year-old Scotland international had recently captained the team in Ozturk’s absence.

perrykitchen1USA cap Kitchen only arrived at Tynecastle in March but his solid performances in midfield coupled with his steady demeanour made the 24-year-old an outstanding candidate for the position.

Last night’s preview of the club’s new museum at the stadium was a fitting venue for Kitchen to make his first public appearance as skipper as Hearts celebrated their esteemed past.

He said: “This is definitely a proud moment. It’s a huge honour and I’m looking forward to taking on that role. I was a bit surprised, to be honest.

“It was a conversation me and Robbie had over the past few days, that’s how it started. You’d have to ask him why he chose me.

“I’m thankful for the opportunity and to be at this club and I’m looking forward to continuing to grow as a player and help this team win.

“Standing here at the museum and looking around you see the history of this club, what it means to the supporters, the duration it’s been around.

“I’ve read the Hearts At War book and learned about McCrae’s Battalion so I think I’ve got a good understanding of what the club is about and what it means to the fans.

“The history of the club means a lot to the fans, there are a lot of proud moments for the fans to have.

“It feels good to represent this club and pull on the jersey. I’m very honoured, it’s going to be exciting.”

Kitchen admits predecessor Ozturk was quick to offer his congratulations.

He added: “It’s a tough position. It’s tough for Alim because he is a leader of this team.

“He’s a good professional and he’ll respond in the right way.

alimozturk “Alim didn’t say anything specific, he congratulated me but it’s a tough position for him to be in.

“He’s still going to be a leader here and that’s what you’d expect from him. There are no hard feelings.

“We had a meeting today and the guys are happy with it.

“I don’t think anything changes for me. If you get the band you don’t need to go crazy, you just need to keep doing what you have done to get in that position.

“There is no reason to go crazy. i will keep doing what I’ve been doing.

“We have a lot of leaders in this team and Don did a great job while he had the armband. Alim did as well.

“I’m just looking to continue what they’ve done. You don’t have to have the armband to lead and that’s something we have within the group –  a lot of guys who will step up.”

Kitchen admits he would love to lift some silverware wearing the armband.

He added: “Absolutely, that’s the goal, not just as captain but as a player. We all want to win something and put your name in history, so that is definitely important.”