Jamie Walker concedes he ‘under-appreciated’ life at Hearts as midfielder returns for second stint at Tynecastle


JAMIE WALKER insists he has learned the hard way that the grass is not always greener on the other side after re-joining Hearts from Wigan Athletic.

Walker, 26, has penned a three-year deal with the Jambos, arriving on a free transfer from the Latics.

The gifted midfielder joined the Skybet Championship outfit from Hearts 18 months ago in a £300,000 deal but made just nine appearances for the club, eight of those from the bench.

Walker battled injury issues during his spell in England and spent the first half of last season on loan at Peterborough United.

And Walker has acknowledged that he ‘under-appreciated’ what he had at Tynecastle prior to his departure – but reckons he is a stronger character as a result of those travails.

He said: “Maybe, I under-appreciated what I had at Hearts.

“Mentally, I’m stronger now from the experience and hopefully I can have another successful spell. It just shows you that it’s maybe not so good to move.

“It’s been frustrating. As a football player you want to be playing football.

“I’ve no bad words to say about Wigan. I went there and sometimes things don’t work out. I’m just looking forward to getting back playing.”

Walker endured a tumultuous end to his first stint at Hearts, enduring a dip in form following a protracted transfer saga which saw Rangers make three separate offers for his services.

They all failed to meet Hearts’ valuation of the player and he ultimately made the switch to the DW Stadium, departing with little fanfare.

However, Walker’s pedigree in maroon is unquestionable, having racked up an impressive 40 goals and 35 assists in 181 appearances for the club.

And the Hearts academy product has no doubt that he can recapture his best form.

He added: “I had good numbers for a midfield player in my first spell here. I’m confident in my own ability and that I can get back to where I once was. Here’s to hopefully another 40-odd goals!”

And Walker confirmed that he spurned interest from the English Football League and elsewhere in Scotland to secure a return to Hearts.

He added: “I had a few clubs up here and a few down in England that got in touch with my agent. But when Craig [Levein] got in contact with me – it’s just the right place for me.

“It was always on my mind to return here – maybe this is a bit quicker than I expected – but I’m delighted to be back and I’m going prove to everyone that I want to be here and I’m going to do well.”

Walker becomes Levein’s third summer signing following the acquisitions of Craig Halkett and Conor Washington, with Steven Naismith expected to follow suit.

He has been handed the number 10 jersey which was occupied by Arnaud Djoum last season.