Odel makes dream debut for Hearts

Defender targets European football after loan spell starts with a goal.

By Bruce Talbot • 22 August 2023

By Heart of Midlothian FC
Odel Offiah's header is on its way into the Partick Thistle net.

Odel Offiah could become the first Albion player in Europe this season after his goalscoring debut for Hearts.

The 20-year-old joined the Scottish Premiership club on a season-long loan last week and watched at Tynecastle as Hearts beat Rosenborg to reach the Conference League play-off.

And after scoring in Sunday’s Viaplay League Cup win over Partick Thistle, Odel has put himself in contention to face PAOK in this Thursday’s first leg at Tynecastle.

“Brighton are involved in Europe now, but this will be a first for me,” he said. “It's up to the manager but if there is an opportunity to play I would love to because it's Europe.”

By Heart of Midlothian FC
Odel Offiah celebrates after scoring on his debut for Hearts.

Offiah’s first senior goal in their 4-0 win over Patrick was also the first he’s scored with his head.

“Even when I was growing up or coming through the academy I didn’t score a header so I'm buzzing to get off the mark," he told Hearts TV. "I was at the Rosenborg game on Thursday and the atmosphere was crazy. I couldn't even hear myself at times and it got my juices flowing to want to play in front of those fans and to give them the win.

“I've made my Premier League debut (against Nottingham Forest in April) but scoring a goal tops that.

“I don't score that often, but if I can add goals to my game then that would be brilliant and it will definitely help the team and my career. The coaches have just told me to be versatile and there are a lot of games coming up in Europe so I need to be versatile in the position that I'm asked to play in.”

Odel is following in the footsteps of another Albion defender Alex Cochrane who initially joined Hearts on loan before making the move permanent.

By Stuart Wallace/Shutterstock
Alex Cochrane joined Hearts permanently after a successful loan spell.

“I spoke to him before I came up and he just said Hearts is a brilliant club,” he added. “He’s done brilliantly since he came here and said it would suit me to come here.

“I haven't watched a lot of Scottish football but, from what I have seen, Celtic and Rangers play good football. Rangers got to the Europa League final a couple of years back so my thoughts have been good and positive.”

Another player who has made a good start to his loan spell is goalkeeper Kjell Scherpen, who has helped Sturm Graz pick up ten points from their first four games in the Austrian League by keeping four clean sheets, the latest in a 1-0 win over Austria Lustenau on Saturday.