HEARTS midfielder Arnaud Djoum insists he is honoured to be making his family proud after enjoying his international breakthrough with Cameroon.
Djoum made his international debut last month when Cameroon defeated Gambia, to complete their qualification for the African Cup of Nations finals next year, and also played in a friendly against Gabon.
On Tuesday, the 27-year-old was again called up by the Indomitable Lions for their forthcoming World Cup qualifier against Algeria, whilst Tynecastle team-mate Faycal Rherras is also in Morocco’s squad for their qualifier against Gabon and a friendly against Canada.
Djoum was born in Cameroon but raised in Belgium and represented Belgium at youth level.
However, after catching the eye of Cameroon manager Hugo Broos with his displays for Hearts, the former Anderlecht and Roda JC is relishing representing his ‘home’ country.
He said: “I have a lot of family in Cameroon – uncles, cousins and even my godfather. They were all really, really happy for me. For them, it is such a big deal to represent your country, especially at football.
“I’m obviously a dual citizen, so I have a passport for both Belgium and Cameroon, but to be called up to Cameroon means so much to my family so it was a fantastic honour for me.
“People in Cameroon live for football, it’s massive to them. It’s a poor country and there are many things they don’t have, but when it comes to football they all come together. Football and music, that’s the two big things there!
“So, for them to have someone in their family called up to the national squad is a big thing. It felt great to give them so much pride.”
Djoum joined Hearts in September last year on a short-term deal that was quickly extended to include this season.
His continuing impressive displays then saw him pen another extension last moth to keep him tied to the Tynecastle club until 2019.
And he believes his international success is firmly down to feeling more comfortable in his club surroundings.
In an interview with the Hearts match-day programme, he added: “Hearts gave me a platform to show myself. Before I came here it was harder for me; I didn’t play with the confidence that I do here.
“From the moment I arrived, everyone was good with me and it helped me settle down and gave me a lot of confidence.
“So, when the club asked me to sign an extension until 2019 I was more than happy to do it. It gives me stability and means I can just focus on my football.”