New Hearts striker Kyle Lafferty has taunted Hibs supporters after claiming he has joined ‘the biggest club in Edinburgh’ – a day after snubbing talks with the Leith side.
The former Rangers player could not resist fanning the flames over the controversy of his two-year deal at Tynecastle as he was unveiled on Thursday afternoon.
The Northern Ireland internationalist became the subject of a tug of war in the capital after Hibs made a late move to try and gazump their city foes.
Keith Gillespie, the former Manchester United winger, had hoped to broker the move to Easter Road and even posted a picture of himself and Hibs head coach Neil Lennon on Twitter yesterday asking, ‘where’s Lafferty?’.
Gillespie then branded the player ‘disrespectful’ for not turning up for talks, but Lafferty insists he had no intention of meeting Lennon.
“I’ve joined the biggest club in Edinburgh and the third in Scotland – I’ve made the right decision,” said Lafferty.
“I don’t want to be known as the player who ignored Hibs, I want to be known as the guy who scored 20, 25 goals to help get the first trophy in the new stand.
“I’m at Hearts and everyone knows Hibs were interested in me but I’m not going to waste four days negotiating with Hearts and it being 99 per cent done, then going across the city and showing a lack of disrespect to Hearts by speaking to another team.
“My heart didn’t really want to be there.
“I showed Hearts respect by staying and (Hearts owner) Ann Budge wouldn’t let me out the office.”
Will Lafferty attempt to make contact with fellow countryman Lennon to clear up any misunderstanding?
“I don’t think I need to do it because I’m here with my agent,” he added.
“I was with Hearts for four days with my actual agent. There was time to speak to me before.
“When I come to play Hibs, I’ll shake Lenny’s hand. I’ve no problem with Neil Lennon, I think he’s a fantastic manager.”
Lafferty does not plan to lose any sleep over the certainty that he has become a hate-figure for the Hibs supporters.
“Having the Celtic fans hate me, I thrived on it and it’s probably going to be the same here, especially with what has happened over the last couple of days.
“I believe I’ve joined the right club to progress my career and get Hearts to where they deserve to be; bring European football to the club. I think we can reach those heights.”
Lafferty won three top-flight titles at Rangers before leaving under a cloud in 2012 for Swiss side Sion when he refused to have his contract transferred to the new company amid the Ibrox club’s finanicial troubles.
He returns to Scotland with a lot to prove. Prove he should be his country’s principal striker and that he is no longer the ‘class clown’ on the pitch.
Lafferty also claimed his reputation as a party animal during his time in Glasgow was wide of the mark.
“I’d rather have a glass of red wine in the house and watch a movie,” said Lafferty.