Hearts midfielder Olly Lee reveals the coaching role which sparked his desire for a job at Riccarton

Olly Lee is already planning life beyond his football-playing career. A coaching role at Hearts would appeal enormously to the bubbly Englishman.

Hearts midfielder Olly Lee is studying for a UEFA B coaching licence.
Hearts midfielder Olly Lee is studying for a UEFA B coaching licence.

He spent last season on loan at Gillingham and used the opportunity to coach his cousin’s under-16 team. Upminster Town play in the Chelmsford Youth League in surroundings drastically different from those at Riccarton. However, the experience fed the coaching bug within Lee.

He is still only 29 but is studying towards a UEFA B Licence to ensure he remains in football for life. His Hearts contract ends next summer and he may yet be offered an extension. If it included some part-time coaching, so much the better.

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"I’d love to, I’ve not spoken to anyone about it yet but it is something that is in the back of my mind,” he said.

“I’m doing my UEFA B badge at the moment, it’s the first one on the road. I’m really enjoying it, it’s hard when it’s over zoom but it’s insightful and I’ve learned a lot.”

Younger Hearts players are already tapping into Lee’s experience. "I think I just talk a bit of rubbish,” he laughed. “I just try to make them feel relaxed.

"I started doing my coaching badges over lockdown and there's little things I pick up and I like being able to pass them on.

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"We've got some really good young players here and it's nice to be able to pass a bit of wisdom on and take them under your wing a little bit.

"I try to help out in any way I can. We've got such a good academy and good players that if you can help them a little bit then who knows where it can take them?"

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Any coach must be prepared to get his hands dirty, something Lee is familiar with.

"When I was back home last year I took my cousin’s under-16s team, Upminster Town, and they did alright. I’m far from the next Pep or Klopp but I’m trying,” he laughed.

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“It took me three months just to get them to listen to me, I think. When I finally earned their respect I was back up to Scotland.

"I’ve still got a little group chat with them. They ask how I’m getting on and give me a bit of stick if anything happens. They congratulated me the other night when I scored two [against East Fife].

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"I enjoy that side, working with the young lads and passing on experience. It was a Sunday league team, it was a good little league to be fair.

"It’s kids from school. Sometimes they just want to run around daft but after a couple of weeks they were brilliant with me.

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"I saw improvements and I get a real kick out of that. They seemed to be enjoying their football and improving. That’s the main thing.”

The experience, allied to his studies, afforded Lee a new appreciation of management.

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"It has really given me an insight, you see the planning that goes into it. When you’re a younger player you just go out and think: ‘For what reason?’

"I like looking into that side of it now and thinking: ‘How can we exploit teams' weaknesses?’ It’s good to know what the coaches will be thinking, whereas before you focus on yourself.”

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