'Hearts' style didn't suit me': Marc Leonard lifts lid on Tynecastle exit
Former Hearts youth player Marc Leonard has revealed he wanted out of Riccarton because of the style of play.
The 17-year-old midfielder left for Brighton and Hove Albion last year, less than 12 months after signing his first professional contract with Hearts.
Manager Craig Levein admitted he did not agree with the decision but Leonard has explained his reasons after earning his first Scotland Under-19 call-up.
"I really liked Craig Levein. He was director of football and was fantastic with all of us. We all respected him," said Leonard. "As soon as I made the step up it was more about results and the style of play changed. I'm not sure the style suited me.
"As a midfielder, it wasn't what I wanted my game based around. I just didn't feel I was involved as much as I could have been within that style of play at Hearts.
"The level at Brighton is also so much higher in every age-group. Coming down, I had to improve on my physical attributes and I had to catch up with the guys who had always done it.
"It took a while to settle into the new environment and routine, but now I feel in the best place I could be. I'm bigger, stronger and faster, so it's all coming together now."
Leonard is living away from home but his father and grandfather regularly make the gruelling 18-hour round trip to England's south coast to see him play
"After leaving Hearts I had six months staying at home waking up to mum and dad. Then I was down there," he told The Sun. "You'd be doing what you love but little things like walking past your family and so on were no longer there. Now I have fitted in here and the club is so friendly.
"It's about becoming a better human as well as a better footballer. Dad does the nine-hour drive to Brighton with my Papa. They'll stay the night then head back. Dad goes everywhere to watch me.
"I'm really grateful. It helps seeing your family on the sidelines and gives you a boost."
Scotland Under-19s are heading to Spain to play two friendlies against Japan. "I was buzzing when I got the call-up. I just can't wait for the games," said Leonard.