Tony Watt keen to shake off bad boy reputation at Hearts

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Hearts' Tony Watt believes his return to Scottish football will improve his chances of playing for the national side

Tony Watt says he has grown up and vowed to prove his bad boy reputation is a thing of the past and earn a recall to the Scotland squad as he starts a season-long loan at Hearts.

The former Celtic forward has moved to Tynecastle from Charlton for the season but knows he is as much remembered for his winning goal against Barcelona in 2012 as he is for the fall-outs he has had with a string of managers.

Hearts are Watt's eighth club at the age of 22 and he admits some of the negative public perception surrounding him, fuelled by criticism from former bosses such as Neil Lennon, has been self-inflicted but he says he has learned from the past.

Tony Watt's finest hour in the Hoops against Barcelona at Celtic Park in November 2012
Image: Watt scored against Barcelona in November 2012

He told Sky Sports News HQ: "I've learned to grow up, to become a man and to do as much as I can in football. I've learned it is a hard game and sometimes you need to be home and get back to the basics. Hopefully I can be a big part of the team and help them kick on.

"I think I did well last season but I need to refresh my career and re-start back with good foundations around me.

"Nobody ever doubts my ability, it is always the attitude and everything. Without being cocky, I am a good player, I know I am, and it will just help me be more focused and more concentrated and driven."

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His coach at Belgian club Lierse, Stanley Menzo, branded him "lazy and unfit" and Watt has confessed he failed to train as hard as he should have but the former Standard Liege, Cardiff and Blackburn striker has vowed to show he is a reformed character.

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"Maybe I was a bad trainer when I was younger and maybe I wasn't as professional as I'd liked to have been," he said. "It is hard to shake these reputations off but I am doing my best to get rid of it. I want to score goals and I want to work hard, that is how I will change that reputation.

"I came back up the road to be closer to my family. They are my support and my life. They mean the most to me and are helping me through everything.

Tony Watt of Charlton Athletic during the Sky Bet Championship match against Queens Park Rangers
Image: Watt has joined Hearts on loan from Charlton

"It annoys me a little that people have an opinion about me but don't really know me. But I don't listen to people on the outside. I just focus on what my family say to me. All this negativity in the press obviously frustrates you as most of it is lies.

"But things are clearing up now and I'm happy about that. I'm more mature now but I don't think I'm a different person.

"A lot of times during my career people have asked my agent what my attitude is like because they have heard things through the grapevine. That's part of life. But if my ability shows what I'm really made of here then everything that has gone before won't matter anymore.

Blackburn Rovers' Tony Watt (left) and Burnley's Rouwen Hennings
Image: Watt also spent time on loan at Blackburn Rovers last season

"I want to show the world what I can do here at Hearts. Maybe I've got a bit of a reputation here in Scotland but I know I will show people what I'm capable of."

Watt could make his Hearts debut against former side Celtic on the opening weekend of the new Premiership season, live on Sky Sports 5 on August 7, and he is hoping to make a positive impression on Gordon Strachan and win a Scotland recall.

Watt made his Scotland debut against the Czech Republic
Image: Watt made his Scotland debut against the Czech Republic

"It will be strange playing against Celtic," he said. "But it doesn't faze me or scare me. I want to do my best for Hearts.

"Hopefully I can do well and eventually get back into the Scotland squad. I want to do my best and play football happy again. I've had a bit of a stop-start, turbulent career. Now I've got the chance to stay put for a while and start kicking on."

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