Chris Hamilton made his Hearts debut at the age of 16 – but is set to give up on his Tynecastle dream at 20 after joining Arbroath.
Hamilton was given his start for Jambos in a 1-0 Scottish Premiership defeat to Kilmarnock in May 2018, aged just 16 and ten months.
He was then quickly catapulted into the Scotland under-21 set-up.
But after a series of loan spells, Hammy accepts his future could be elsewhere.
That could well be at Gayfield where Hamilton has joined on loan – following a glowing recommendation from ex-Dundee United and Scotland boss Craig Levein.
“Craig gave me my debut at Hearts at 16 and it all seemed to fall into place that summer,” said Hamilton.
“I was called into the Scotland under-21 squad for the Touloun Tournament. Within a few months I’d played for both them and Hearts.
“It was great and something I never expected to happen so quickly.
“I went back to Hearts thinking I’d have a chance of making the breakthrough.
“But as a young centre-half it was never going to be easy to push my way into the side.
“I had a conversation with Craig and decided it would be best to go out on loan.”
Hamilton’s loan spells away from Hearts
Hamilton had short stints at Berwick Rangers, Cowdenbeath, Dumbarton and Stirling prior to his loan switch to Arbroath earlier this month.
“I had a great time at Cowdenbeath,” he added.
“I spent time at Dumbarton and Stirling last year and I’ve almost played 50 games at 20.
“I’m not one for sitting around waiting for the chance to get on the Hearts bench – I want to play.
“Robbie Neilson has been very honest with me. With a year left on my deal, I’m going to find it hard to get game time at Hearts.
“When a club like Arbroath wants you then you take the opportunity.
“I want to play football. If it’s not to be at Hearts then I don’t want to hang around.
“I want to make a career for myself and if that means dropping down then I’ll do it.
“But right now I want to focus on what I can achieve with Arbroath.”
Chris Hamilton keen to make an impression at Arbroath
Hamilton signed for Arbroath after impressing during a 4-1 friendly defeat to St Johnstone.
He is just two game short of 50 senior appearances and has already past one test at Arbroath – the singing initiation.
Hamilton impressed as he followed up Joel Nouble’s attempt with a cover version of Paolo Nutini’s Last Request.
“I sang a Paolo Nutini number for the Arbroath players group chat,” said Hamilton. “It seemed to go down well and was a great ice-breaker.
“Everyone at the club has made me feel so welcome and I’m sure this will be a great move for me.”