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Stephen Kingsley fuelled by heart-breaking Scottish Cup memories ahead of final

Stephen Kingsley hopes to banish 2020 anguish by overcoming Rangers in Saturday’s final (Andrew Milligan/PA)
Stephen Kingsley hopes to banish 2020 anguish by overcoming Rangers in Saturday’s final (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Stephen Kingsley will be fuelled by heart-breaking memories of December 2020 as he bids to fire Hearts to a first Scottish Cup triumph in a decade.

The defender had the chance to put his team on the brink of glory in the final against Celtic 17 months ago when he stepped up to take a penalty, after Ryan Christie’s miss had handed the Jambos the initiative in the shootout following a 3-3 draw.

But Kingsley could only watch in agony as Hoops goalkeeper Conor Hazard dived to his right to block his effort and turned the tide back in the Glasgow side’s favour.

Craig Wighton then missed Hearts’ next kick before Kris Ajer fired the winner, leaving the Jambos shattered.

Kingsley – usually such a reliable dead-ball specialist – hopes to banish that anguish by overcoming Rangers in Saturday’s final.

“I think it will play on my mind for the rest of my life, to be honest,” he said, reflecting on his pivotal miss. “It was so frustrating. I felt comfortable, I felt confident but unfortunately it just wasn’t right on the night.

“It was disappointing and it will stick with me but you can’t think about it too much. It’s about looking forward and making sure that if I get the chance again, I do it properly and put it right.

“A disappointment like that drives you on to make sure there are no regrets this weekend. That whole game was a bit of a whirlwind.

“We didn’t have a great first half but I thought we did brilliant in the second half to get back in the game.

“I got a goal that night and we managed to take it to penalties. It was difficult that it ended that way but it can really spur you on and inspire you to go and put it right the next time you get that opportunity.

“Thankfully we’re in a position now where we’ve got another final on Saturday and hopefully all of us can make an impact and we can win it.”

Kingsley got a flavour of what awaits he and his team-mates if they win on Saturday after Hearts’ 2012 Scottish Cup-winning team were inducted to the club’s Hall of Fame at their Player of the Year awards dinner earlier this month.

“We saw the 2012 boys getting into the Hall of Fame for their Scottish Cup, it was amazing to see that,” said Kingsley. “We’re just hoping we can join them. It would be an absolutely brilliant achievement.”