HEARTS wonderkid Aaron Hickey is so ‘laid back’ that he probably doesn’t even realise some of Europe’s most prestigious clubs are on the hunt for his signature.
That’s the view of fellow Tynecastle youngster Lewis Moore, who emerged through the youth ranks with the precocious defender.
Serie A leaders Lazio are the latest continental giants to be linked with the 17-year-old, while the likes of Bayern, Manchester City, Celtic and Southampton have been credited with an interest.
Hickey, who could be available for a cut-price fee if Hearts’ relegation is upheld, saw his burgeoning reputation further enhanced this week when he was nominated for the Scottish Football Writers’ Association young player of the year award.
However, teammate Moore has laughed off any suggestion that all this hype could go to Hickey’s head.
“Aaron [Hickey] has already played so many games and been linked with some of the biggest teams in the world – it’s been incredible to see,” said the 22-year-old.
“But it’s definitely not effecting Aaron. He’s the most laid back guy you could ever meet – he probably doesn’t even realise that he is being linked with all these teams!
“His head is in the clouds sometimes. He just goes out and plays his football – and what a player he is.
“He is just an inspiration to everyone and shows you that you can make an impact, regardless of how young you are.”
Indeed, Stendel showed a willingness to rely on the kids after taking the reins from Craig Levein in December.
The German’s praise for Hickey was always fulsome, he gave Moore a starring role in wins over Rangers and Hibernian, pitched Euan Henderson into the first-team and fielded classy midfielder Andy Irving 10 times.
He also recalled talented teens Anthony McDonald and Harry Cochrane from loan spells at Dunfermline but the league was postponed due to the Covid-19 outbreak before the pair were able to feature.
“It helps when you have a manager [Daniel Stendel] who shows so much belief in youth,” continued Moore, who this week signed a new contract until the summer of 2022. “Age is only a number and we’ve the gaffer seems to really buy into that.
“We have all come through the reserves together which makes it even better to play alongside them in the first team.
“It’s not that you would be nervous otherwise, but when you have played beside these boys before and know their strengths and personalities, it makes you that little bit more comfortable.”
And Moore believes the next generation of Hearts stars can spearhead a resurgence following a miserable campaign for the Gorgie outfit, even if the worst happens and the Jambos start the 2020/21 season in the Championship.
He added: “Even in the Championship, it is still a great platform, especially for the younger boys.
“I know they were a wee bit more established, but I think back to Jamie [Walker] and Sam Nicholson who used that [2014/15] season in the Championship to show their potential, play regularly and score goals.”