BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
OLLY LEE has revealed he was sold on a move to Hearts by former Hibernian loan star Andrew Shinnie, as he vowed to inspire the Jambos to a charge for silverware and European football next season.
Lee, 26, has penned a three-year contract with the capital club after leaving Luton Town following their promotion to SkyBet League One.
Shinnie, who spent the 2016/17 campaign at Easter Road and also turned out for Rangers, Dundee and Inverness, spent this term on loan at Luton from Birmingham City and proved a vital sounding board as Lee weighed up a life-changing switch north of the border.
He also canvassed the opinion of ex-Hatters ace Stephen O’Donnell, now at Kilmarnock and a recent call-up to the Scotland set-up.
“I had a few people I spoke to about the move. One of my friends is Andy Shinnie, so I got some advice from him,” he smiled.
“That might not go down to well as he’s a former Hibs player!
“He told me all about Edinburgh, what a great city it is and – to be fair – he talked about how big a club Hearts are.
“Stephen O’Donnell was at Luton with me for a spell too and spoke very highly of Scottish football, so I’ve had plenty of positive opinions. It’s a big move for me and I just can’t wait.”
Lee, the son of former Newcastle United and England midfielder Rob, joins the Jambos on the back of a fine campaign with Luton, scoring the goal which formally sealed promotion from League Two in a 1-1 draw against Carlisle.
The former West Ham, Barnet and Birmingham man also won the EFL goal of the season for his stunning 70-yard strike in a 7-0 demolition of Cambridge United in November and leaves Luton following 123 appearances and 11 goals in three years.
And Lee is determined to enjoy further success in Gorgie after setting lofty ambitions for his time at Hearts after becoming their FIFTH signing for next season following the captures of Jake Mulraney, Steven MacLean, Uche Ikpeazu and Bobby Burns.
“Craig Levein has already been really positive about next season and I can’t wait to get started,” he continued. “We know sixth isn’t the best finish for Hearts and we’ll be looking for top four next season and to win something.
“That’s why I’ve come here. I want to be playing in semi-final and finals, finishing fourth and hopefully getting to Europe. I’m used to winning games and I want to do that in the Scottish Premiership.”
Lee has already been afforded a taste of Tynecastle at its electric best after attending the Jambos’ 2-1 triumph over Hibs last Wednesday which ended their rivals’ dream of securing second place in the Championship.
“I saw the training ground and have been to the stadium for a game and the set-up is just brilliant,” Lee told Hearts TV. “To come to the game [Edinburgh derby] and see the atmosphere, those fans really sold it to me.
“This is a step up for me but one I’m more than prepared for. I’ve been ready for this for a long time.”