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Hearts defender John Souttar dedicates semi-final goal to Ann Budge and addresses Rangers links

© SNSHearts owner Ann Budge (right) watching the semi-final
Hearts owner Ann Budge (right) watching the semi-final

John Souttar dedicated his Hampden semi-final goal to Hearts’ owner Ann Budge.

The defender believes reaching the Scottish Cup final is a fitting reward for the 71-year-old’s battle to pull the Jambos back from the brink of extinction.

Victory against Inverness Caley Thistle came at the end of a week when Budge had to announce they were closing part of Tynecastle because of fan misbehaviour.
Souttar, who has been linked with a move to Rangers, appreciates that he wouldn’t be enjoying cup glory without her years of struggle to keep the club afloat.

He said: “Ann came in to the dressing room at the end. She said she was delighted and you could see it.

“From where this club has been and to now get to a cup final, it’s a sort of fairy-tale story.

“She has done so much for Hearts, and the gaffer, too.

“There are a lot of demands on this club. It’s not easy to play for and I’m sure it’s not easy to manage or own.

“I was delighted for both.

“Everyone knows that Hearts need to be in cup finals and finishing high up the league.

“After the season the whole club has had — we have had difficulties individually and collectively — it’s brilliant the fans have the cup final to look forward to.

“They have done so much, too, and hopefully we can give them a day out they will never forget.”

© Kenny Elrick / DCT Media
Souttar celebrates

Souttar claimed he was unaware of talk that Steven Gerrard would like to take him to Ibrox.

He went on: “I didn’t see it. I don’t tend to look at my phone on match days and it’s the first I’ve heard of it.

“I haven’t scored in a wee while, so to get one on an occasion like this was brilliant.”

Hearts’ winger Jake Mulraney admitted he got a touch to the ball before Inverness defender Jamie McCart hit the net, meaning the goal should not have been ruled offside.

He said: “I slide tackled the boy and thought I nicked it off him.

“Do I have sympathy for him? It’s football. Mistakes happen.”

The Irishman will have a dilemma surrounding tickets for the final if Celtic beat Aberdeen today.

He went on: “I’m from Dublin and there’s quite a few Celtic fans in the family.

“All my uncles support Celtic, and my cousins.

“If they get through, it will be an awkward day.

“I wasn’t a diehard Celtic fan.

“I’d see some of the games because my uncles were watching but it’s a different mindset for me now that I’m playing for Hearts.

“It could be anyone we’re playing.”

The 23-year-old admits he initially found it tough at Hearts after arriving from Inverness last summer.

Playing a vital part in yesterday’s win will, he believes, help his Tynecastle career.

He said: “Surprisingly, I wasn’t really nervous.

“It was weird. I said my prayer and was quite calm before the game.

“I think that helped me.”