Ex-Hearts gaffer Craig Levein left wayward player locked up for eight hours

Former Hearts manager Craig Levein has revealed that he once locked a young wayward footballer in a broom cupboard to teach him what life would be like in a prison cell.

Wednesday, 13th October 2021, 4:45 pm

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Levein, 56, said he took action after a police contact regularly tipped him off about the player's off the field behaviour.

He said he only intended to lock the player away for a short time, but forgot about him for eight hours and the plan to teach him a valuable lesson backfired as he found the player sound asleep and completely unflustered.

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Levein during his time in the Tynecastle hotseat

Levein, who co-hosts the new BBC Radio Scotland podcast "Sacked in the Morning", managed Cowdenbeath, Hearts, Leicester City, Raith Rovers and Dundee United as well as the Scotland men's national team, and did not disclose the player's identity or the club he played for.

Recalling the incident, he said: "I had one particular player, I can't even say which club, that I got phone calls about every Monday morning.

"I had a friend in the police and he would give me a heads up if any of the players had misbehaved over the weekend. He was on the phone most Monday mornings about this particular player.

"He was just a young lad too and he was up to all sorts -- he got thrown out of a nightclub and then had a fight with both the bouncers and ended up beating the two of them up.

"It was constant and I was racking my brains. He was staying in digs for part of the period and I would say to him 'your landlady's been on the phone this morning saying you got in at six o'clock (and he'd reply) 'no, I was in my bed'. He could look you right in the eye and just absolutely just tell you a lie without even batting an eyelid and it was week after week after week.

"I said to my assistant, 'look, he's doing my head in'. He's a young guy and I said to him 'you're going to end up in the nick at some point because your behaviour is way past what is normal'.

"There was a broom cupboard up the stairs, and I said to Housty (his assistant manager Peter Houston) here's the key, go and stick him in that broom cupboard.

"What I was trying to do was get the kid to think about what he had been doing and what it would be like to be stuck in a cell.

"We stuck him in the cupboard and then forgot all about him. It was about four o'clock in the afternoon, I said 'oh shit'. I took the key and I went up and I was thinking to myself 'he's been in there eight hours or something'. So I opened the door and he's sleeping... not bothered his backside. Nothing.

"I had to wake him up. That plan backfired a little bit. I was trying to help. It's just trying to find ways of getting the players to understand.

"The thing about a football team, it requires discipline. It's not quite like the army but you're trying to get everybody on the same page and everybody working really hard. Hard work and teamwork are really important things and for a football manager for his team to be successful you need those things.

"This was my way of trying to get this particular player on track."

Levein, who won 16 caps for Scotland as a player, added: "You can do all the coaching courses you want, I never had any training at all in dealing with situations regarding players' problems.".

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