Robbie Neilson praised by Hearts hierarchy

Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson

Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson

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Burgeoning Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson, right, has been the subject of the highest praise from his bosses.

At yesterday’s AGM, director of football Craig Levein described the 34-year-old as “the hardest-working manager in Scotland”, while owner Ann Budge admitted afterwards that it’s only a matter of time before he moves on to bigger things.

Levein said: “I don’t say it lightly but I believe without fear of contradiction that Robbie’s the hardest-working manager in Scottish football. He works his players as hard as he works and he embraces everything that the club is about and in particular spends a lot of time trying to help out with the academy.

“He comes into the academy early on a Saturday morning to watch the kids playing and that has a huge influence and the kids and the parents to see that he has a deep interest in what’s happening in the academy.

“When I go into the dressing-room after games and listen to what he’s saying, it’s always very positive and about what we can do. He doesn’t get involved in refereeing decisions or other things that go on that he can’t influence.

“He’s a remarkably calm young man and I think that transfers into the dressing-room. He’s a crucial cog in the wheel.”

Budge added: “Robbie’s been amazing. As a supporter, I had seen him as a player. When he was suggested as a head coach, I was intrigued a little bit. Clearly there was a risk because of the lack of experience in that capacity, but he has surpassed everybody’s expectations.

“I think he will have a fantastic career. I would love to hold on to him for an indefinite period. But in reality, he will move on to a bigger club, I don’t doubt that.

“We spoke before he got the job about succession planning, so when it is the right time for him to go, I hope we as a club will be ready to back-fill.”