He may have become an icon to Aberdeen fans with his goalscoring streak but Sam Cosgrove is still “just a local lad” when he goes home.
The 22-year-old – who has netted 18 times this season – used his week off over the international break to spend time with friends and family in Knutsford, just outside Manchester.
Despite his growing reputation in Scotland, after 16 goals in 19 appearances from early December, the big striker’s hero status hasn’t quite reached north-west England.
Cosgrove, who returned to training on Monday and is set to be in action against Hearts at Tynecastle today, said: “I’m not quite as much of a hero down there as I am up here.
“But it’s nice to see everyone.
“It’s definitely grounding. When I go back home, I’m just Sam the local lad.”
Cosgrove was delighted to have the chance to relax and see his mates for the first time since his Dons career has taken off, adding: “We got a week off, so I just went home and saw my family and chilled out a bit.
“It’s a town called Knutsford, just outside Manchester, so it’s not the worst journey in the world.
“My family come up and visit me quite often. They’re really good with me, I’ve got lots of support.
“But it’s the first time I’ve been down to see all my mates (since his scoring run began).”
The former Carlisle United player also tuned into the international matches and, despite his allegiances lying elsewhere, offered support to Scotland after their disappointing Euro 2020 qualifying start.
He said: “I watched most of the international games, because I wasn’t that busy.
“I just tried to see as much football as I could, actually.
“England were always expected to come away with two victories, and did it in emphatic style, to be fair.
“I’m sure Scotland will pick up. There is quality in the side and I’m sure they’ll get over the little blip they had.”
Having had his break, Cosgrove is now desperate to get back on the pitch for the Dons’ run-in – where they are trying to reach the Scottish Cup final and pip Rangers to second in the Premiership.
A win or draw today would see Aberdeen go 10 away games undefeated.
Cosgrove said: “It was a good time to have a break, because even after the winter break it was quite a physically demanding schedule.
“There were a lot of games in not too much of a space of time.
“It’s not just the physical refreshment, it’s recharging the mental batteries as well, which is half the battle.
“We’re all raring to go, because it’s been two weeks without a competitive fixture.
“Everyone’s champing at the bit to get going.”
Tynecastle hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for Cosgrove.
After a 2-1 loss there in October – and with just two Reds goals under his belt to that point – he found himself out of the team.
His next start came in the Betfred Cup final defeat to Celtic on December 2 and, since then, he has been boss Derek McInnes’ golden boy up front.
Cosgrove said: “It was a tough day at the office last time (at Tynecastle).
“It was well noted how well Hearts started the season. They were flying and we didn’t match them at all in the first half.
“The second half was better watching back, but whenever I come out of the team – it happens in football – it’s about having that mental strength and will to get back into the team.
“I’ve shown the commitment and desire to get back in and it’s just about staying in it now, scoring as many goals and doing all I can to keep that run going.”
Cosgrove netted a double in a 2-0 victory against Hearts on December 22 – the Dons’ last home victory. He labelled his second-minute opener in the win one of his favourites so far.
The attacker said: “Hopefully I can do that again (score a couple). The first header was one of my favourite goals, because of how quick it happened in the game.
“If I can get off to that kind of start again it’ll be magical.
“One of our jobs as a striker is to get a goal as early as possible. It takes the pressure off everyone else I suppose.
“We can then settle in and really play our game.”
However, goals aside, Cosgrove will be happy as long as Aberdeen come away with another away result.
He said: “We need to get three points.
“They’ve been on a decent run to be fair the last few games.
“Hearts are always a strong team and have plenty of quality from back to front.
“Going to Tynecastle, we’ll expect a tough game.
“But our away form has been good and we go there in high confidence, fully expecting to take three points.”