Steven Naismith takes up new coaching role at Hearts

Hearts captain Steven Naismith has taken up a new coaching role at Riccarton as he plots a route towards management.

The Scotland internationalist is assisting John Rankin with Hearts Under-18s, who finally began a truncated league campaign earlier this month following the Covid-enforced shutdown of youth football.

Although still an integral part of the Edinburgh club’s first-team squad, 34-year-old Naismith is undertaking extra coaching duties to build a career for when he stops playing.

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Hearts are using the youth league to develop players, with some 14-year-old and 15-year-old kids involved at under-18 level. They have played three games since the league restarted, beating Aberdeen but losing to Hibs and St Mirren.

Hearts captain Steven Naismith is coaching the club's youth team.

“With the under-18s starting back up and going back into the league, plus with the resources and what’s allowed in bubbles, the club came to me and asked if I would help out,” explained Naismith when asked by the Evening News about his new role.

“It’s something I’ve done in the past and I want to go down that route when I finish playing so it was a no-brainer for me. The manager has been brilliant by talking to me and giving me the opportunity, as have the coaches.

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“People think you’re a player so you understand the game but it’s totally different. Way back when I first did some coaching, you walk out on that pitch and you’ve got a group of 14-year-olds staring at you.

“You’re talking to them but inside you’re thinking: ‘They’re looking at me thinking I’ve not got a clue.’ In reality, they’re probably in awe that a first-team player is there. That’s the sort of thing you need to get over and take enjoyment from it. Now it comes as second-nature and it’s something I really enjoy.

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Hearts captain Steven Naismith is now coaching the club's youth team.

“It’s just until the end of the season. Whether it’s something that progresses, who knows? When I’m playing, I’ve always felt I don’t want to distract from it because I think coaching does that. You find yourself thinking about things when you should be thinking about games.

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“That’s why I haven’t overly done it but this has been a good opportunity. It’s come at the right time. We have won the league with the first team and this has given me a good wee platform to enjoy it.”

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