STEPHEN KINGSLEY admits that joining Hearts made sense on a personal and professional level.
The left-back signed a one-year deal with the Tynecastle outfit on Tuesday before making his debut hours later as a substitute in the 1-0 Betfred Cup victory over Inverness.
Kingsley had been a free agent after turning down a short-term contract offer to finish the elongated 2019/20 campaign at Hull City in June. Just weeks earlier, he became a dad for the first time to his daughter, Alba.
With English Premier League experience under his belt from his time at Swansea, the 26-year-old would not have been short of offers south of the border. However, in the current climate, the Stirling-born Kingsley, who is set to feature in today’s match against Cowdenbeath, admits returning closer to home represented the best move.
He said: “I spoke to the gaffer here a couple of months ago.
“There were a few things he was looking to do first before he could get anything done with me and I was looking at different avenues that I could have gone down as well, but it all tied up in the end and I was delighted to get it over the line.
“I weighed up my options against each other and decided what was best for myself and my family. I just had a baby five months ago in lockdown. That changed a lot of things. There was a lot to think about and that added to the stress of it all.
“But Hearts is such a massive club and it was a good fit for me coming back home to be with my family as well.”
Starting a family at the best times can be rewarding and challenging in equal measure and
Kingsley concedes welcoming a child into the world in lockdown was not straightforward.
Kingsley added: “It was pretty insane, everything about it.
“It turned out fine and I feel very blessed for the experience I got considering what was going on in the world.
“My wife had a great birth and I was allowed in to be there for her, it was very stressful but I always feel so lucky I got to spend so much time with them as well.
“Had the season continued I would not have got that time.”
Asked if there was potential for him to extend his stay at Hearts beyond the year he has signed for, Kingsley, whose only Scotland cap came in 2016 against France, added: “My aim now is to play as many games as I can until the end of the season then we’ll sit down, have a look and take it from there.
“Given the financial pressure everyone is under just now, the year was best for the club and best for me so that’s what we’ve signed.”