Craig Levein: Five career highlights

Craig Levein celebrates the win over Bordeaux in 2003
Craig Levein celebrates the win over Bordeaux in 2003
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As Craig Levein steps into the Hearts head coach role to replace the sacked Ian Cathro, we take a look at some of his career highlights ...

SPFA YOUNG PLAYER OF THE YEAR AWARD TWO YEARS RUNNING

At 22, Levein won recognition for his performances in a maroon jersey as he scooped the Young Player of the year award at the end of the 1984/85 season. Even at that young age, Levein had swiftly forged a reputation as a classy and composed defender since his move to Tynecastle for the princely sum of £40,000 from Cowdenbeath. The following season, he became the first player in the history of the award to retain his title as he played a major role in helping Alex Macdonald’s team push for the title.

FIRST SCOTLAND CAP IN HISTORIC WIN

The accolades kept coming for Levein in his career although, curiously, he only made his Scotland debut in 1990. It ultimately proved to be an historic clash as Andy Roxburgh’s side defeated the reigning world champions, Argentina, 1-0 at Hampden. Stewart McKimmie bagged the only goal of that game, with Levein completing the full 90 minutes as Scotland claimed a famous victory. Levein, who would go on to make the squad for Italia 90, was restricted by injuries to a total of 16 caps for his country.

THE ORIGINAL 5-1

Levein served Hearts in a managerial capacity from 2000-2004 after being appointed boss following Jim Jefferies’ departure. Whilst Hearts fans revel in the historic thrashing of their rivals in the 2012 Scottish Cup final, ‘the original 5-1’ came as Levein’s men hammered Bobby Williamson’s Hibs at Tynecastle in 2002. Mark de Vries – in his first outing as a Hearts player – scored four times to seal a memorable win.

TAKING HEARTS INTO UEFA CUP GROUP STAGES

Levein crafted a stuffy but effective Hearts team that punched well above their weight. They pulled off a huge shock in the second round of the UEFA Cup in 2003, putting French giants Bordeaux to the sword in a 1-0 first-leg victory in the south of France. A 2-0 home defeat was to end Hearts’ hopes but Levein wasn’t to be denied the following season. After a 3-1 home win over Braga at Murrayfield, a 2-2 draw in Portugal secured the Gorgie side a place in the UEFA Cup group stages, an achievement that earned Levein a move to Leicester City.

WINNING THE SCOTTISH CHAMPIONSHIP

Following the dark days of administration and subsequent relegation to the second tier, Levein played his part in securing Hearts an immediate return to the top flight of Scottish football. As director of football, he went about overseeing the complete re-building of Hearts from the academy to the first team. Hearts exploded into action as they romped to the 2014/15 Championship title by a whopping 21 points under head coach Robbie Neilson.