Peter Haring admits he’s got Hearts in his soul after riding an emotional rollercoaster at Tynecastle.
But the Austrian midfielder knows he has work to do if he’s to extend his love affair with the Gorgie club.
Haring is out of contract next summer and has yet to open talks over a new deal.
The 28-year-old is enjoying his best run of form in Scotland since joining three years ago and has struck up a good partnership with new boy Beni Baningime in the Jambos’ engine room.
It’s a far cry from 2019 when Haring sat out an entire campaign due to a pelvic injury sustained in the Scottish Cup Final defeat to Celtic.
That meant he missed the Tynecastle club’s controversial relegation from the top flight at the outset of the covid crisis and only returned to action to help Robbie Neilson return them to the top flight last season.
Hearts stood by the former SV Ried star though and are now reaping the rewards with his dominant displays in the middle of the park helping them go unbeaten in their first five league games.
Haring said: “This is the club I have been the longest at through my whole career. I really feel part of it.
“Going through everything I have in the last few years - first of all with my injuries and then relegation and getting back up - means there’s an emotional connection with the club.
“I have enjoyed every single day of being part of it.
“It’s a great club to be at and work at. I’m really happy to be here.
“We will see what the future brings.
“There’s been no talks yet. But there’s so many games left this season and I still think I can do better than I have so far.
“I really enjoy Edinburgh, especially this year with the weather being so good!
“Since just before covid my missus has been here too so I’m not on my own any more.
“The country is open for travelling too so last weekend was my first since before covid that my family has been over and that makes life much easier and more enjoyable.”
Hearts had to Ross County this afternoon knowing a victory would see them leapfrog leaders Rangers for 24 hours at least.
Neilson has made no secret of his ambitions to return the Jambos to the top - with Europe an initial target this season and then getting in about the Old Firm thereafter.
Haring is thriving on the demands and reckons the signing of Baningime from Everton has been a masterstroke.
He said: “Beni’s good. He’s a very intelligent player who understands the game really well and makes it easy to play with him.
“He’s not the most vocal player, he’s quite calm and relaxed but he’s usually in the right position and you don’t need to worry too much about him.
“The year I came in we started really well but we hardly knew each other because there were 16 new signings.
“Now we have a team that knows the league, that has been playing here for a few years.
“The team this year is more experienced and mature. The year I came three years ago we didn’t end the season well enough after such a great start.
“I’m confident that won’t happen this year.
“The next two games are massive. Ross County and then home to Livingston.
“When you play Celtic or Hibs you know everyone is going to be at it, on fire and really wanting to win.
“We have to make sure it’s the same mentality this weekend then I’m confident we will win the game.”