Paul Hartley credits stinging Craig Levein criticism for making him Hearts star

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Paul Hartley credits scathing criticism from Craig Levein during a post-game dissection with giving him the motivation required to succeed at Hearts.

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Paul Hartley was a fans' favourite during his time at Tynecastle. Picture: SNS

Paul Hartley was a fans' favourite during his time at Tynecastle. Picture: SNS

The midfielder would go on to become a Tynecastle hero, impressing over three-and-a-half seasons and helping the club to win the 2006 Scottish Cup.

However, he wasn’t initially viewed as a good signing when Levein brought him to the club in the summer of 2003 as fans famously booed his unveiling due to his previous spell with rivals Hibs.

He didn’t get off to the best start once he’d started playing either. After a 1-0 defeat at Hibs on the second weekend of the season, his manager tore into him during a video analysis section.

For Hartley, though, it was the wake-up call he needed. And after returning from the manager’s doghouse he would become mainstay of the side.

He told Simon Ferry on Open Goal: “He slaughtered me in front of everyone. We got beat by Hibs - big Garry O’Connor scored a last-minute winner.

“That was the first time I’d started doing video analysis, I’d never done that before. We came in on the Monday, we’re all sitting down. And the full hour was on me. ‘You never track back, you’re lazy, you’re not working hard enough, you’ll never play for Hearts again if you have another performance like that, f****** terrible, shocking performance, you better get your finger out and start working.’ I’m like, I actually though I had done all right.

“For the next six weeks I never played. I just grafted my b**** off. I thought I was fit, but not compared to those guys. Hearts were based on fitness and working hard. The penny dropped for me.

“One thing about Craig, he’s fair. He’s a tough, tough taskmaster. I’ve seen in the dressing room, punching tactics boards. He’s very tough but he’s fair.”