BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
IGOR ROSSI has revealed how his brother has helped him settle into a new life in Scotland as the powerful defender hinted he is ready commit his future to Hearts.
The 27-year-old joined the Jambos last summer, arriving on these shores from Portuguese club Maritimo unable to speak a word of English and a complete newcomer to the rough-and-tumble of British football.
However, he has been able to lean on younger sibling Raphael, a fellow defender with SkyBet League One outfit Swindon Town, regularly meeting up with him and indulging in language lessons.
Clearly, it is paying dividends. Not only has he been one of Hearts’ star performers in the last 18 months, but his English was finally strong enough to carry out his first interview with the national press this week.
The Brazilian said: “It’s important for me to have my brother in Britain because before I came here Raphael told me about Scotland.
“He has been in England for four years now and he is a big help to me. He helps me with my English and has been important in making sure I can settle here.
“I didn’t speak any English at all before I came here but now I am getting better at understanding my team-mates now – although Scottish is more difficult to understand than English!
“I am going to classes every week now and that is important for me. My wife is here, too, and she has helped me settle as well.
“There is a big difference between Brazil and Scotland, the flight times are long and, although last season my mother was able to come over, that is not easy because my mother and father have jobs there.
“With the football, it is difficult but I like it, I like the contact. Some clubs just play long balls up to their strikers and I’ve had to adapt quickly to this – but I think the game here suits me.
“I think I adapted quickly and that was important for me. That gave me confidence to play my game.”
Rossi is relishing life in Edinburgh, having settled in the capital with his wife, Marina, and appears in no rush to bring an end to his successful stint in Scotland.
That will be music to the ears of the Gorgie faithful, with the player’s contract due to expire next summer and head coach Neilson keen to secure Rossi on an extended deal.
Rossi continued: “I like it here, I am happy here – and not just with the football. Hearts is a fantastic club and l like Edinburgh very much, it is a beautiful city – although it is very cold . . . especially coming from Brazil!
“The people are very nice to me, my wife is very happy here, too. I would like to stay but, of course, it will depend on all sorts of things.”
A more pressing concern for Rossi is ensuring there is no repeat of the porous showing which marred Hearts’ last Premiership outing – last week’s breathless 3-3 draw against Inverness Caledonian Thistle.
With St Johnstone the visitors to Tynecastle this afternoon, he added: “Of course we were not happy to lose three goals. But what is more important is the next game, we need to have more concentration.
“Before Inverness, we had not scored a lot of goals – but we weren’t losing goals either. Then everything changed. We scored goals and we lost them too!
“We need to be more focused, not just on scoring goals or defending, but everything.”