Ryan Edwards admits his cup final goal was all the sweeter following his struggle to establish himself at Hearts.
But the midfielder took little solace from the opener after the match as Celtic came from behind to win the William Hill Scottish Cup trophy thanks to Odsonne Edouard’s double.
The romance of the cup was in full bloom when Edwards stabbed home early in the second half, after being handed only his third start for the club.
The 25-year-old had to wait almost 10 months for his debut off the bench against Hibernian on April 28, following his summer move from Partick Thistle, doing enough in the intervening weeks to earn a final start.
“I was on the bench against Rangers five weeks ago and before that I was playing in the reserves,” the Australian said. “So it’s a bit of a rollercoaster four or five weeks for me.
“The way my season has gone I wouldn’t have known I’d be starting in a cup final. I just kept my head down, worked hard and focused on myself. I couldn’t have asked for anything more apart from winning the cup.
“I’m gutted, to be honest. We ran them close the full game and Celtic never really got into their rhythm. Credit to the boys, it’s just really disappointing.
“We have worked really hard the last couple of weeks to come up with a game plan and everything was set up first half to go 1-0 up.
“It’s a bit disappointing to lose the two goals we did but I’m proud of the boys and we can take this into next season.
“It was great to score in a cup final, especially after a difficult season. But the two goals we lost were avoidable and it’s really hard to take.”
Edwards was loaned to struggling St Mirren in the first half of the campaign and he admitted he wondered at one stage whether he would play for Hearts.
“That thought comes in my head the way the season went but I just always control what I can control, and that’s to come into training with a smile on my face and work hard every day,” he said. “I’m a big believer in that.
“The injuries helped me get an opportunity in the team and it was up to me to take it. I think I have performed reasonably well and hopefully with the last four or five games I have played here I will be in his plans for next season.
“The staff have been really, really good for me to stay positive and enjoy coming into work every day.
“It’s been a pleasure to be at this club, I’m so grateful to have the opportunity and I hope I can have more appearances.”
Edwards now looks to have a future at Hearts beyond the summer.
Manager Craig Levein said: “He’s a really good example to any young player or any football player.
“He was on loan at St Mirren, came back and couldn’t get in the team, played reserve football but never let his standards drop in any matches he played or in training.
“That enabled him to get in the team, through circumstances, but if you keep yourself right and fit and do the training work that you need to be ready, then you are always ready to play.
“And all credit to him, he’s played the last couple of matches and he has been very good in both of them.”