Craig Gordon flying with Hearts as Scottish Cup and Euros come into focus
Champions League, Europa League, English Premier League, Scottish Premiership titles and trebles. Craig Gordon is as decorated as Scottish goalkeepers get. He isn’t finished, either.
He rejoined Hearts to finish playing with his formative club and boyhood heroes but this is no gentle stroll into the sunset. The 37-year-old could, potentially, find himself with another Scottish Cup medal and a historic appearance at the European Championship.
The next few weeks are colossal if those ambitions are to be realised. Hearts beat Hibs last weekend to meet Gordon’s former club, Celtic, in the Scottish Cup final on December 20. More immediate is next week’s Euro play-off between Scotland and Serbia in Belgrade.
Gordon is back in the international arena after a two-year absence thanks to his bravery in leaving Celtic for Hearts. A series of top saves in the season’s opening games convinced national coach Steve Clarke to recall the in-form goalkeeper.
After Saturday’s league match with Inverness, he joins a Scotland party aiming to end more than two decades without appearing at a major finals. The Scottish Cup can wait for now, but that’s also at the back of his mind.
“They would be great things to be involved in but there’s a lot of hard work to go before all of them,” he said. “I’ll keep working hard, putting myself in a position to play in those games.
“Physically I’ll look after myself and go as long as I can. Whether that’s two, three or four years, I’ll take that one stage at a time.”
He is certainly content at forcing his way into Clarke’s thinking. “I’m very happy. It’s been a good week with last week’s result and then finding out that I was in the squad.
“It’s quiet early in our season so it didn’t give me much time. I knew this was the one that if I’d played well and managed to get myself into the manager’s thoughts, it would give me a chance.
“I knew it would be tight in terms of timing and how many games that we’d played before then, so this is something that I really wanted.
“It’ll be a fantastic game to be involved in and I really look forward to meeting up with the boys and helping in any way I can.”
An important aspect for any goalkeeper is belief, especially during long stints as a substitute with the accompanying fear of stagnating. Gordon went through that scenario with Celtic last year as deputy to Fraser Forster.
He feels the decision to leave was correct. “Yeah, I think so. That’s what I set out to do [get a Scotland recall]. I wanted to play football and there were no guarantees I was going to get that at Celtic.
“I wanted to come here for the exciting opportunity. The club is looking to bounce back and that was what I wanted to be part of.
“Regardless of what was happening at Celtic, I wanted to come here and play some games. It’s just the start here. I’m happy with how everything turned out but I need to keep that going.”