Marcus Godinho hails Callum Paterson influence as he reflects on remarkable journey from Toronto to Hearts first-team, via 14 MONTHS on the sidelines

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BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport

HEARTS starlet Marcus Godinho has credited former Tynecastle hero Callum Paterson with getting him on the road to recovery – by acting as an impromptu chauffeur.

Godinho, still a fresh-faced teenager at the time, endured a devastating sequence of knee injuries mere months after making the life-altering decision to move from Toronto to join the capital club, condemning him to more than a year on the sidelines.

However, he was driven on by the infectious positivity and colourful character of Paterson, who was battling back from his own cruciate knee ligament damage.

(Pic: Martin Bazyl)

As well as providing constant inspiration in the gym, the Scotland internationalist went the extra mile by giving his stricken colleague a lift to training every morning, ensuring Godinho did not have to fight through the rush hour crowds on the bus to training on crutches.

“Callum is a massive inspiration. I absolutely love the guy, he is brilliant on and off the pitch,” said Godinho.

“To see him doing so well gives me the belief that I can do the same, especially as he is someone who came through the ranks at Hearts and endured so many injuries as well.

“If he can do it, then I believe I can as well.

“He used to pick me up every morning for training when I was on crutches just so that I wouldn’t need to take the bus, which was a really nice gesture.

“He’s hilarious and loud – but really caring, too. He was good to me.”

Godinho is not, however, quite so confident about the prospect of matching Paterson’s progress on smash computer game Fortnite, which has inspired several goal celebrations that have made the Bluebirds man a viral hit.

He joked: “I’m building up to when I can play against him – I play it a little, but might need to get more involved and win some more games, because he seems pretty good at it!”

Addressing the media yesterday, Hearts boss Craig Levein described Godinho as ‘really tough’. That appears an understatement.

An 18-year-old 3,300 miles away from his friends and family, lesser individuals would have wilted in the face of a 14-month absence due to a knee muscle tear followed by major cartilage damage.

However, Godinho knuckled down, regained full fitness and, after earning his stripes on loan at Berwick Rangers in the first half of the season, has established himself in Levein’s side and has made his full debut for Canada.

“When I first came to the club, I spent pre-season with the first-team and I was really feeling like ‘okay, things are going to work out here’,” he recalled. “That’s when I got my first injury which put me out for eight weeks. Just as I was completing rehab from that, I tore my articular cartilage and was out for a year.

“I was on crutches for 10 weeks and mentally it was a hard time. I was over here without any family or support, but I managed to get through it.

“Once I started getting back to the gym I got my head down and said ‘I’m going to make the best of this’. I was determined to come back better and stronger than I was before.

“There are two other Canadians here, Dario [Zanatta] and Harry [Paton], so they were really supportive. In the gym, there was Sam [Nicholson] and Cal [Paterson], who were always there to talk to. Just to see them working so hard to get back also pushed me on.

“My time at Berwick was was beneficial. I bulked up a bit and got used to the strength and physicality needed. I felt I started to play better and came back to Hearts in January feeling good.

“I’m loving it now. Everything about being in the first-team is amazing and it has always been my dream, so to get that opportunity and keep my spot in the team has been unreal.”

Godinho during his loan stint at Berwick (Pic: berwickrangers.com)

The gifted right-back could be forgiven for not wanting this season to end, such has been his progress. However, ahead of today’s visit of Aberdeen, he acknowledges that – as a club – it will be a relief to consign a tumultuous campaign to the history books.

“It’s not been the ideal season for the team and it’s good that it will be coming to an end,” he conceded. “However, we want to end on a high note and refocus for next season.”