Australian defender Ben Garuccio is not looking to extricate himself from troubled Hearts, no matter what becomes of the Scottish club’s legal fight to avoid the drop.
Currently appealing a decision by league bosses to demote them to Scottish football’s second tier after the premiership was cut short by the coronavirus, the Jambos are in limbo.
But, former Adelaide and Melbourne City left-back Garuccio, 25, is determined to see out the final year of his three-season contract and do his bit to restore the Edinburgh club’s fortunes.
“I can’t wait to get back and see what the plan is for next year,” said an upbeat Garuccio, who has fought his way back to fitness after the agony of an ACL injury.
“It’s been my dream since I was young to play in Europe and Hearts are the team that gave me the chance to do that.
“I feel like I owe the club and I want to stick by their side.
“Obviously there is uncertainty at Hearts over the decisions that have been made to relegate us, and that’s made everything very confusing.
“I’m waiting to hear back from the club - and hope we can start training again soon.
“It seems very unfair that we weren’t allowed to finish the season and have now been punished for it.
“We have had no control over the situation but you have to find ways to get through these things and come out the other side.”
Hearts were four points adrift of safety at the foot of the SPL when the season was shut down and ultimately abandoned, with escape within their grasp before the crushing verdict from the league chiefs.
Speaking from Melbourne where he has been awaiting instructions on when to board a flight back to Scotland, Garuccio added: “With the league in Scotland splitting in two we’d have been playing the bottom six and would have had great opportunities to win points and would certainly have backed ourselves to get out of the position we were in.
“That’s the disappointing part but I guess there are all sorts of things that can still happen with the legal action and things like that.
“These sorts of things have been reversed in other countries before and this whole thing has taught us that football and life, in general, is full of all sorts of uncertainties.”
Having made 17 league appearances last season, Garuccio featured only four times this time round after working his way back to fitness after the ACL injury he suffered 15 months ago.
“I knew that coming back midway through the season would be tough because the team was quite settled and Aaron Hickey had come in (to fill Garuccio’s spot) and was doing really well,” he said.
“I understand that. He worked hard for his place and was putting in some really consistent performances.
“I told the coaches and staff I’d do everything possible to come back from the injury and everybody at the club knows if I’m needed I’ll always put my hand up.
“My knee is really good now and I’m as fit as I’ve ever been. The injury (sustained in training) taught me a lot about not taking things for granted.”
The former Australian youth international will leave no “stone unturned” to deliver on his potential.
“I haven’t achieved what I want to yet in my career and you don’t want to look back and think you could have done more,” he explained.
“I want to go back and prove I can play and start in a team like Hearts.
“You don’t understand the magnitude of the club and the support that it commands until you get there.
“If anybody asks me about Hearts it’s a great club for any Australian to aspire to (with the likes of Ryan and Dylan McGowan, Oliver Bozanic and Ryan Edwards all wearing the famous maroon shirt).
“The following the game has is phenomenal and the atmosphere at grounds like Celtic Park, Ibrox, and Tynecastle is electric.
“You don’t see it at many other places in the world.
“There are ex-Premier League players here and talent everywhere you look. There are no easy games.”