For the rest of December, we’ll be profiling 20 of the most promising Scottish talents who we believe will have defining 2020’s. Hearts’ Aaron Hickey is up next.
The full-back has had a whirlwind year as he was dropped in at the deep end of senior football. Making his Hearts debut at Celtic Park aged just 16, his second appearance would come in the Scottish Cup final a week later.
In both games he showed he was a Gorgie star of the future and 2020 could be another big year for Hearts’ teenage prospect.
Caught Stendel’s eye already
Whilst Craig Levein isn’t exactly the most well liked man around Gorgie just now, Hickey does have a big thanks to pay him. Levein handed him a huge platform and he’s built on it well.
Versatile, quick and shrewd defensively, Hickey’s looked liked the perfect modern full-back at times this season, even at 17. Like many Hearts players he’s came though a rocky patch, but he’s one of a few Jambos who can hold their heads high despite a poor campaign.
New manager Daniel Stendel clearly recognises this too. Speaking after the 1-0 defeat to St Johnstone in his first match, the German says all the Hearts players should be showing the bravery Hickey is displaying.
He told the Hearts website: “In the second half, Aaron Hickey showed he wants to play offensively, he tried to play cross balls and push our game in front and he’s the youngest player on the pitch. This is a sign for everyone to take note, that the youngest player on the pitch played with the most bravery.”
Hickey will have to deal with the hype at Hearts
Last year, unless you were an expert in all things youth football at Hearts, nobody in Scottish football knew who Hickey was. Now he’s being linked with the likes of Manchester City and talked about as arguably Hearts’ biggest prospect.
It’s easy to forget now that Hickey has wrapped up 28 appearances at senior level that he is only 17. Yes there is undoubted potential but Hearts need to make sure they manage him properly.
In the latter stages of 2019, Hickey began to show signs of him tiring, which was only to be expected with how many games he’s played under intense pressure. In recent weeks he has improved, but it’s a warning to not over expose him.
That aside, 2020 could be another big year for the teenager. In a struggling Hearts side, he is a diamond in the rough. Inspiring performances to save Hearts from the drop could see him become a fully fledged Hearts hero.
He’ll have to deal with the inevitable hype that two transfer windows will bring though, plus the expectation of fighting the Premiership drop. It’s a lot for a 17-year-old to take on, but Hickey’s got the ability to live up the task.