Liam Boyce has marvelled at the turnaround at Hearts since the club was consigned to relegation.
Now, with the team securing third place in the Premiership and a return to European football, Boyce hopes to be central to their mission to win silverware.
The Northern Ireland international arrived at Tynecastle in January 2020 as Hearts struggled to beat the drop under manager Daniel Stendel.
The curtailment of the campaign due to the pandemic saw the Edinburgh club sent down to the Scottish Championship amid months of legal battles and uncertainty.
But the return to the helm of Robbie Neilson, and the appointment of Joe Savage as sporting director, sparked the charge towards an immediate promotion back to the top tier.
Hearts face city rivals Hibernian for a place in the Scottish Cup final this weekend.
Boyce said: “It’s been absolutely huge. It’s not even just that we went down then came back up.
“To have a style of play being implemented and the players that we have brought in to fit into that system – it has been a complete change from what I came into.
“That is a credit to the manager to get in all the right players.
“Off the pitch, everyone is so close. We all have a laugh and then we know when we have to work and when we have to be serious to get ready for games.
“I think we have been good at that this season and hopefully on Saturday we do the same.”
Now playing a deeper role than the centre forward position he is used to playing, Boyce is delighted with his form despite scoring fewer goals himself.
With teammates Craig Halkett, Stephen Kingsley, Andy Halliday and Barrie McKay all extending their contracts, Boyce is keen to stick around Tynecastle as well.
He said: “I think signing the guys up is crucial – they are mainstays in the team and a big part of what we want to do.
“It is massive to keep the core of the team and build around that to get the flair players in that will win games for you.
“It is all looking good but we know we can’t get too far ahead of ourselves.
“I’ve got another year on my contract and I need to keep putting in performances and see if they try and come to speak to me about it.
“My family is here and settled, my daughter is in school and I am in a great place.
“It is a great team to play in, a great way we are playing which suits me and I love it here.”
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