Aidan Denholm met the press ahead of Heart of Midlothian's penultimate fixture of the season away to St Mirren on Wednesday evening.

The central midfielder discussed what he's learned during his debut season as a first-team player, his plans to stay in shape over the summer, and why the thrill of being a senior player at his boyhood club still hasn't worn off. 

Here's everything he had to say.

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How do you reflect on the season as a whole?

I think there have been lots of ups and downs but for my first season it has been brilliant, I’ve learned a lot. And getting European football is a massive, massive achievement.

What’s the biggest thing you can take from this season?

Probably off the pitch to be fair, how to deal with it all. The boys have been brilliant. It’s different when you are walking along the street and somebody actually recognises you, so you have to be wary of that. On the pitch as well I’ve learned a lot. Not what to do, what to do, just really saving your energy. Obviously I’m an energetic player and want to get round the pitch but in certain times you don’t have to as much. I’m eager and I want to get around but the boys have been different class, telling me what to do and keeping me in the right place.

Do you get stopped for selfies?

Sometimes, when I was across the road at Scotmid the other day someone was like, ‘Aidan Denholm, is that you?’. I was like, ‘this is new!’. I'm a grounded guy and I have to remain humble and remember where it all came from. I don’t get carried away by all that but it is lovely.

Do you get any abuse?

Not really, I had a Hibs fan stop me once and say a few things but other than that no.

How has playing in the first team accelerated your development?

I played a lot towards December time. I’ve not played as much past January but if I can play my role in the team - not playing, starting, not in the squad - you still need to be energetic around the building and bring positive vibes to everyone else. Even if you’re not playing and the team have won it still feels like you’ve won. With playing Rosenborg, I think that has given me a lot of experience of what to expect in Europe, and going away to PAOK, I can’t wait.

Does the gratitude of being a first-team player wear off?

It doesn’t wear off, I still look at boys in the changing room and think, ‘I’ve watched you play’. Like I’m now hitting shots at Craigy [Gordon]. I car share with Boycie and I was in the stand when he was playing against Rangers in his first home game and I was like, ‘this is just mental’, because I’m car sharing with him. The likes of Shanks and that too. It’s a privilege to play with them.

James Wilson came on at the weekend, how impressed have you been with him?

He has trained with us a lot recently, him and [Ethan] Drysdale, and he’s been different class. I thought he did really well when he came on. He’s had to be patient but me and Macaulay have had to be really patient as well and it shows that there is youth there to be played and it shows the B team there is a pathway there into the first team.

READ MORE: Behind the scenes with Cammy Devlin: From a day at training to improving at golf

Have you been advising James and Ethan based on your experiences this season and last season?

I would say it is more midfielders like Callum Sandilands and people like that. Callum once came up to me asking for advice and it was all new to me. They all come up to you asking for tips that I am getting off the likes of Shanks and all that to pass onto them. I think everyone is buzzing to be around the building. I think the fans take to that as well, which is brilliant.

Who has been most influential member of the team for getting advice?

Probably Barrie McKay. He is quite quiet but he's been different class with me. He’s taken me away for coffees outside of football and kept me really grounded. He’s told me that football can change like that, that there can be highs and lows, but you need to make sure you are enjoying it. I'm a Hearts fan so I want to enjoy it and not just get caught up in it. All of the boys have been different class and the young players here would say the same. There is a great vibe in the dressing room, they make you feel like a first-team player and not just a young boy. That’s different from where I’ve been and it’s amazing.

You’ve got a break coming up, what are your plans?

I’m going away with my girlfriend for a week and a half and chill before getting right back into it. It’s been a big season for me but I don’t want to be just happy with that, I want to kick on.

A lot of players will get an outside coach over the summer, is that something you’re going to do?

I have an outside coach and again that was thanks to Barrie. He put me in touch with him. It’s more about not training to be a body builder, it’s about training as a proper footballer while also getting that side of it. That’s all new to me as well. I want to come back from the off-season and hit the ground running because last pre-season was huge for me with getting let go and then coming back. I felt like I had something to prove but now I feel like I’ve got even more to prove. I’ve shown fans little glimpses of what I can do but I know there is more. I do need to chill and relax but after that I’ll be back to it.

Does having your future secured make things different this time around?

It’s easier because I know all of the boys now. It was my first pre-season away with them last year and I didn't know most of them so all though we were chatting it wasn't great conversations. Now I am close to all of them and it is a really good group. So it's about making relationships on the pitch and we also have some new boys coming in. We need to get to know them and see how they play on the pitch and what they’re like off the pitch. It’s been amazing and I can’t wait for pre-season.

Can you tell us more about your outside coaching?

It's not about pushing heavy weights at ridiculous numbers, it's about getting into the frame of a footballer. James Wilson came on against Dundee at the weekend and he's put on a lot of weight and has shown he can handle men's football now. Macaulay also doesn't get pushed around and it shows that the young boys are taking it seriously. There is a lot I can improve on – sharpness-wise, I believe I can get quicker. All of that comes with playing and I think I can get a lot sharper and cover more distance as that is what I want to do. I am energetic, that is my game and I'm similar to Cammy Devlin in that respect. I've had so many conversations with Cammy about when to save that energy and when to use it. I'm not there yet but Cammy is helping me to get there.