HEARTS have handed young Northern Ireland defender David Armstrong a five-year contract.
The 19-year-old son of former Glentoran, Distillery and Ards striker, Winston Armstrong, joined the Edinburgh club from Lisburn Youth.
He has spent the last three seasons at Tynecastle, although he did return home to complete a spell on loan with Crusaders the season before last.
Armstrong – his other christian name is Maradona – is currently on holiday in Lanzarote celebrating his new deal. His Dad, known as Winkie, said: "We are still trying hard to take it in.
"Hearts academy director John Murray rang to say there was a offer of the table for David. It was a surprise because he has had an injury problem since the turn of the year and hasn't played a lot.
"In fact, he was forced to pull out of Northern Ireland's Under-19 championship qualifier in Belgium.
"He also missed out of the Scottish Youth Cup final againt Celtic.
"Having missed so much of the season, David was convinced he would be returning home.
"He actually held talks with Linfield and Crusaders – and was offered terms.
"But John rang and said Hearts chairman, Roman Romanov, has offered him a five-year deal – which was fantastic."
Armstrong added: "It's a great opportunity for David. We have read the contract and it is super.
"He is currently holidaying in Lanzorate, but plans to go house hunting on his return.
"David returned home a couple of years ago to join Crusaders on loan, simply because he was homesick.
"He was only 17 and he was missing home life.
"John Murray has been a great help to David and helped him through the difficult days, while we owe a big thank-you to Hearts local scout Walter Windrum, who took him to Tynecastle from Lisburn Youth.
"It's not every day that a young lad from Northern Ireland signs for a Champions League club."
Incredibly, Armstrong has worked under four different Hearts managers in his three years at the club.
However, Romanov has hinted that interim head coach Valdas Ivanauskas may be offered a permanent contract, having guided Hearts into the Champions League.
He took charge following the sacking of Graham Rix, who in turn had taken over after George Burley's short stint in charge at Tynecastle.
They all came to the club following Craig Levin's departure to Leicester.
* MeanwhilE the playing side of things may be over for the season, off the pitch Lisburn Distillery are still firmly on the ball in terms of fun and fund-raising off it.
The club is once again running an Open Day this Saturday at New Grosvenor, building on the success of last year's event.
There will be entertainment for all with face painting, a bouncy castle, pony and trap rides, a penalty kick competition plus a tombola alongside a range of stalls and a car boot sale.
Stalls cost 20 and the cost per car for the car boot sale is 5.00. The fun starts at 12.00 pm.
Football isn't quite out of the equation though, England's first game in the World Cup, against Paraguay (2.00 pm) will be shown live on the big screen in the social club.
On Monday 19th June, the club is holding its' first Corporate Golf Tournament at Carrickfergus Golf Club (tee-off time is 10.30 am).
There will be a range of prizes on offer and a four-ball costs 200. As well as including hole-sponsorship this amount also green-fees and evening meal for the four ball.
For further information on both events, please contact the club on 077 1067 0362.