Aaron Hickey Making The Right Moves At The Right Time

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Despite only turning 20 years of age in the summer of 2022, Aaron Hickey is a well-travelled professional. He was snapped up by Premier League club Brentford ahead of the 2022/23 top-flight season.

After making his full international debut with Scotland as well, Hickey has been making some rapid strides in the game during 2022. What lies ahead for the full-back?

Brentford Come Calling

In the summer of 2022, English Premier League side Brentford saw left full-back Aaron Hickey as a potential transfer target. After negotiating with Serie A side Bologna, the Bees got their man. Hickey arrived in London for the start of the 2022/23 season.

Brentford handed the youngster a four-year contract, just a month after he had celebrated his 20th birthday. Despite being a young age still, the Premier League is the third European top flight division that Hickey has played in.

His intelligence and versatility are a couple of assets that have been praised. Even the Aaron Hickey Fifa 22 potential is 85 in the popular game with an overall rating of 73. He could be a solid bargain there as he was for Brentford. The Bees paid an initial fee of around £18 million for Hickey.

Aaron Hickey’s Youth Career In Scotland

Hickey’s career began at Hearts, playing through the youth system at the Edinburgh club from the age of 10. In 2014 his path took a turn as Aaron Hickey Celtic interest grew and he moved across to Glasgow to play in the academy teams at Parkhead.

After four years with Celtic, Hickey made the switch back to Tynecastle, although Celtic didn’t do too bad out of the deal. In shipping him back, they worked out a deal to collect 30% of his future transfer fee for when he was set to leave Hearts.

The Hickey Hearts partnership lasted a couple more years after his return to Edinburgh. During that time he was handed his full debut with Hearts in the Scottish top flight. The momentum of his career was starting to gather serious pace.

Aaron Hickey And Hearts

Hickey made his debut for Hearts in a league match, which ended in a loss at Aberdeen in 2019. That was the penultimate fixture of the league season for Hearts. But soon after that, there was a huge game that Hickey was thrown into.

Later in May, the same month as his professional debut was made, Hickey was a starter in the 2019 Scottish Cup Final. The full-back would line up against his former employers Celtic at Hampden Park. Hickey played the full 90 minutes of the match too in that Celtic game. It was a risk by Hearts manager Craig Levein to throw in the inexperienced youngster in, but he handled it superbly.

The Edinburgh club appeared to be on the road to success as Ryan Edwards sent their fans into rapture after scoring in the 52nd minute. But the power and depth that Celtic possessed saw them roar back.

The lead for Hearts lasted 10 minutes before Odsonne Edouard equalised from the penalty spot for Celtic. The referee had called out Hearts keeper Zdeněk Zlamal for a foul against the player. Twenty minutes later Edouard settled the tie with his second of the match.

Still, it was such a huge occasion for Hickey who had barely broken into the first team. With his appearance at Hampden, Aaron Hickey became the youngest player to feature in the Scottish Cup Final since John Fleck in 2008.

Transfer Interest Grows Around Aaron Hickey

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Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford, left vies for the ball with Brentford’s Aaron Hickey during the English Premier League soccer match between Brentford and Manchester United at the Gtech Community Stadium in London, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Ian Walton)

Hickey continued to establish himself in the Scottish top tier during the 2019/20 season with Hearts. But at the end of the season, the transfer interest in the young Scot was getting bigger with each passing day.

Sports news reported several clubs being interested in Hickey at the time. Among them was Celtic who reportedly enquired to Hearts several times to try and get him back to Parkhead. There was also a link to Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich and Aston Villa south of the border in England.

The rumours at the time really put a big spotlight on Hickey, this exciting young talent. But his future lay in Italy in a surprise transfer. Serie A side Bologna were the first to put an official bid on the table to sign Hickey. After some haggling, they got their man.

Hickey Bologna Bound

The reported fee that Bologna paid Hearts for Hickey was around £1.5 million. The player did play a part in the transfer, as Bologna had some appeal to him. Apparently, the Serie A club were prepared to give him the playing time that he needed in the first team.

Had he gone to the reigning Champions League holders Bayern Munich, Hickey would have been destined for their second team. That would have meant third-tier football for Hickey in Germany. With a more family-feel appeal coming from Bologna, that’s where Hickey trusted his future lay and made the move.

Scots In Serie A

Throughout the history of football, you are not going to find too many instances of Scottish players performing in Serie A. It has happened of course. Former Liverpool great Graeme Souness for example, played for Sampdoria.

Manchester United legend Denis Law played a season with Torino before signing for the Red Devils. Former Leeds and Manchester United player Joe Jordan featured for both AC Milan and Verona in Italy.

When Hickey fired in his first goal for Bologna, he became just the fourth Scottish player to hit the back of the net in the Italian top flight. That opening goal for Hickey came from outside the box against Genoa in a thrilling 2-2 draw.

It was the first Serie A goal by a Scottish player since Graeme Souness netted 35 years before. So it was quite the moment for Hickey, who just went from strength to strength with Bologna. In his second season there, he featured in all but two of their league fixtures.

Aaron Hickey vs Andy Robinson

Given that fellow Scottish left-back, Andy Robinson has flourished with Premier League club Liverpool, there have naturally been comparisons between the two players. Hickey and Robinson are somewhat similar in style, it has to be said.

They both like to maraud forward and play their part in the attack. That was a natural feature of Hickey’s time at Bologna and something that Brentford hope that he will bring to the English top-tier as well.

Somewhat surprisingly, the football rumour mill has not really put any Aaron Hickey Liverpool links together. Perhaps in the future, he will be seen as a replacement for Robinson at Anfield. But some Aaron Hickey Arsenal rumours did start to creep out of the woodwork last summer. But they never really came to fruition.

As for Hickey himself, he appears to have removed himself from any comparison to his peer and fellow countryman Robinson. Personality-wise, Hickey is reportedly a quiet person, who smiles more than he talks.

Scotland Call Up

2022 also saw the first Scotland call-up for Aaron Hickey. He had previously been selected for national youth squads. In March 2022 he was promoted to the senior team for the first time and he earned his first cap that very same month.

The international debut for Hickey came in a friendly at Hampden Park against Poland. The game ended in a 1-1 draw with the visitors equalising deep into stoppage time. Hickey was sent on as a 67th-minute substitute in a left wing-back role.

The international year would get even better for Hickey. He picked up seven caps, getting involved in the UEFA Nations League action for his country. In their final match, Scotland, battling a growing injury list, played out a draw away to Ukraine, a match held in Poland.

The Ukraine vs Scotland match ended in a 0-0 tie, enough to earn the Scots promotion to the top tier of the competition for the next edition. Aaron Hickey was named the Man of the Match on an emotional night, and he looks as if he is going to be an integral part of the Scottish back line for a while to come.

No World Cup, But European Championships Are Calling

Scotland heartbreakingly missed out on a 2022 FIFA World Cup spot. They had fallen to Ukraine back in the World Cup play-off back in June. That was a golden opportunity missed by Steve Clarke’s men.

But with them winning the UEFA Nations League B1 they also go into Pot 2 when the qualifying draw is made for the next European Championships. The draw for Euro 2024 qualifying is on October 9th.

Aaron Hickey’s Bright Future

Former Hearts manager Craig Levein praised the versatility, maturity and intelligence that Hickey has. The full-back, who can also operate in the middle of the park, looks to have an extremely bright future ahead of him.

The immediate goal is to have a good consistent season in the Brentford fixtures to come during the Premier League season. With the Bees well-known for their attacking, open entertaining style under manager Thomas Frank, Hickey’s arrival at the Gtech Community Stadium is potentially going to enhance that.

Once again, as he did when he chose Bologna over the reigning European champions, Hickey may well have made the right career move at the right time.