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John McGinn hails Scotland rugby star as he poses with trophy haul in Euros kit

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John McGinn hails Scotland rugby star as he poses with trophy haul in Euros kit

IT can’t have been an easy decision.

But Blair Kinghorn’s decision to turn his back on a promising football career as a pro youth player at Hearts has hit the jackpot this year as the 27-year-old wrote his name into rugby history in the South of France.

John McGinn during the match with Hungary

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John McGinn during the match with HungaryCredit: Kenny Ramsay
Blair Kinghorn celebrates with his double trophy haul - and the Scotland footie kit

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Blair Kinghorn celebrates with his double trophy haul – and the Scotland footie kit

After years as understudy, the 6ft5in full back is firmly established as Scotland‘s No 1 option in that position after the retirement – now reversed – of Stuart Hogg.

But he’s currently living his best life out in Toulouse in the South of France with both the Investec Champions Cup and the Top 14 trophies in his possession – after playing a starring role in his French side winning the biggest club trophies the sport has to offer.

Kinghorn made a shock mid-season switch from Edinburgh to Toulouse and hasn’t looked back since.

He started 14 games, scoring seven tries – four in the Champions Cup – and assisting a further three.

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And he finished the season winning both the Investec Champions Cup and the Top 14 title, as Toulouse did the double for the third time in their history, having done so in 1996 and 2021.

He scored 91 points throughout the season, converting six penalties and 19 conversions.

In the Champions Cup, that meant defeats of Cardiff, Harlequins (twice), Ulster, Bath, Exeter Chiefs and Leinster – while his victims in the Top 14 were Toulon, Racing 92 (twice), Castres, La Rochelle and Bordeaux.

And fans were loving it as he shared the image in his Instagram account, including Scotland hero John McGinn, who replied with two thumbs up emojis.

Yet prior to winning the double with Toulouse, Kinghorn had not won a trophy at club level.

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Kinghorn hails from Edinburgh and he had a decision to make as a teenager when his exploits for Tynecastle Boys’ Club saw him picked up by Hearts pro youth.

Jason Kerr, who captained St Johnstone to a cup double during Covid, was a team-mate – but the central defender has prospered since focusing on football.

As he recalled a couple of years ago to The Scotsman: “From six to 14 I played for Tynecastle Boys’ Club.

“These were great times and when we were under-13s we won the Scottish Cup.

“Jason Kerr was a team-mate and he went all the way to St Johnstone.

“Dad was the coach which was, um, interesting! We had a few lively debates if I wasn’t doing what he wanted.

“I guess the sons of coaches will always get it tough because the fathers don’t want to be seen to be showing any favouritism.

“Dad had this routine on the touchline where if I’d pissed him off he’d count up to ten on his fingers in the hope of calming himself right down.

Toulouse's mayor Jean-Luc Moudenc (L) applauds next to Toulouse's Scottish full-back Blair Kinghorn holding the European Rugby Champions Cup trophy (left)

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Toulouse’s mayor Jean-Luc Moudenc (L) applauds next to Toulouse’s Scottish full-back Blair Kinghorn holding the European Rugby Champions Cup trophy (left)

“There was this game where I started to do it for him: ‘One, two, three … ’ He didn’t like that: ‘Right, you – off!’”

Kinghorn found the Hearts academy too serious – so he “canned it”.

“I didn’t enjoy it. Naively, I thought it would be similar to my boys’ club and I would have a laugh, but it was very serious.

“The training was performance-driven with a lot of coaches scrutinising you in almost a professional way.

“Aged 15 I had to decide between the two sports. Rugby was going well at school so I canned the football.

“I joined Currie and we won everything at under-16s including the Scottish Cup.

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“I don’t look back over my shoulder at football. Not even when players are being transferred for a hundred million – honest!”

Keep up to date with ALL the latest news and transfers at the Scottish Sun football page

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