Former Hearts star Aaron Hickey opens up about Serie A life with Bologna, tactics and language learning
AARON HICKEY entered the pantheon of the greats with the goal he scored.
But he fell in love with the Italian game because of the way they defend.
The left-back has thrived playing for Bologna in Serie A this season.
His goal against Genoa in September made Hickey the first Scotsman to score in the Italian top flight since Graeme Souness scored for Sampdoria 35 years ago.
Joe Jordan and Denis Law are the only other Scottish players to score in Serie A.
At just 19, Hickey has settled in quickly since leaving Hearts 14 months ago.
He said: âWhen I first arrived in Bologna, it was a whole new thing for me. Since it was containment, it was a bit difficult.
âBut it’s been a while now and I’m settled in. I have learned a lot in many ways, on and off the pitch.
âWhen I got injured I was focused on getting back to the team and trying to do my best.
âMy goal for the season was to be part of the team and to score goals. So far I’ve done that, it’s good.
âThe game here is more tactical and I think I prefer that.
âIt’s also pretty defensive and I like that. If you turn off for a second, you’re gone.
âThis is one thing I learned – you need to be fully focused for the full 90 minutes.
“Until the final whistle, you must be 100% on your game.”
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Hickey has learned enough Italian to understand what boss Sinisa Mihajlovic is telling him.
He said: âThe manager doesn’t really speak English, but most of the younger kids do. The older ones speak mostly Italian.
âBut this season we have had a few new signings from Holland. They speak English and the boys who have been here in the past translate for me if I don’t understand the coach.
“But I’m at the stage now that I understand. On the pitch, when he says something to me, I know what he wants.
âI figured it out by being in the locker room day after day and hearing all the boys talking all the time.
âThese are things far from football that I find a little more difficult.
âI had Italian lessons at the beginning and I will take them again. By staying here I have to learn Italian. I have trouble speaking, but I can understand part of it.
âIf I went out to eat, I could order whatever I wanted. All simple things are good.
âThe manager is great with me too. He was also left-back, so he can give me some advice. “
Hickey scored his second goal of the season in a stunning 3-0 win over Lazio last month.
He added: âIt was a great feeling after my injury to come back to the team and it was great to score a few goals.
“I got messages from my friends after the Genoa game and I was just buzzing to score.”
Hickey’s mother Maureen loves to visit Bologna and her father Neil has spent most of last season in the city helping him get settled.
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He added, âMy parents text me every day to see how I’m doing.
âMy mom came last week and is really enjoying herself. I just got a new home and my mom is helping me with that.
âDad had been here for a long time, then he came home in the summer and I’ve been alone ever since.
âWhen I have free time, I sometimes go out for a walk in the city.
âSometimes I go to Florence with the boys from the team. We also went to Milan.
âBologna is really nice. I feel really good here.
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