Steven Pressley: Craig Gordon is the best goalkeeper I played with - he would be a brilliant Hearts signing

Ex-Tynecastle captain says keeper’s return would be huge coup

By Barry Anderson
Thursday, 25th June 2020, 12:30 pm
Steven Pressley captained Hearts to Scottish Cup success in 2006 with Craig Gordon in the team.
Steven Pressley captained Hearts to Scottish Cup success in 2006 with Craig Gordon in the team.

The clamour for Craig Gordon to rejoin Hearts exemplifies his status as a potential marquee signing. The club’s former captain, Steven Pressley, ranks Gordon the most talented goalkeeper he ever played in front of.

It is quite a statement when you remember Pressley counts Andy Goram among his old team-mates. He also defended with people like Arthur Boruc, Antti Niemi and Neil Sullivan behind him during a fruitful playing career.

After returning to Tynecastle Park for a second spell on Sunday, the Hearts manager Robbie Neilson will complete a genuine coup if Gordon leaves Celtic to become his first signing.

Even at 37, the keeper’s agility and talent would significantly improve the club’s options in that position. Neilson and Pressley can both testify to his excellence.

With Gordon in goal, they were right-back and centre-back respectively in one of the most revered Hearts teams of the modern era.

“Craig is a top-class goalkeeper. He is the best I was fortunate enough to play with, an incredible keeper,” said Pressley. “When you mention Goram you are talking special goalkeepers but I genuinely believe Craig Gordon was the best I worked with.

“Because of his agility and size, he could make saves that others couldn’t. He was also very good in one-against-one situations. He had great flexibility and could make himself really big in one-on-ones. He also has a really great temperament for the game.”

Pressley watches developments in Gorgie closely from his family home in England and is intrigued by Gordon’s predicament. The goalkeeper has been offered a new deal to continue at Celtic but only on vastly reduced terms and would likely remain second choice.

Hearts have proposed a two-year contract with the option of a further 12 months, including regular game time and potential coaching opportunities.

Interest from St Mirren was rejected by the keeper himself, therefore a return to his formative club is the most likely scenario if he leaves Glasgow.

“It would be a brilliant signing for Hearts. The goalkeeping position is very underestimated. It is such a crucial position at a football club,” explained Pressley.

“A top goalkeeper can win you a league and it would be a real sign of intent for Hearts to bring back a keeper of Craig’s quality. It would be great for the supporters if they can get that deal through.”

A Hearts fan since childhood who earned the club serious money with his £9million transfer to Sunderland in 2007, Gordon remains an iconic figure to many Tynecastle fans.

He wants to play regularly as he edges into the twilight of his career. Ideally, the chance to develop his coaching career would also form part of his next move. Hearts have a vested interest in letting him do that at Riccarton.

Their 18-year-old youth goalkeeper, Harry Stone, is pushing towards the first-team squad and is regarded as one of their most prodigious talents.

Comparisons between him and Gordon have already been made, so for Stone to learn from and be coached by the man himself would be a priceless education.

“It is obviously down to Hearts and Craig to decide on that if he goes back there,” said Pressley. “Maybe part of the enticement would be whether or not Craig can find his first coaching steps within the club.

“That’s something for Robbie and the club to speak about and see if there’s an opportunity, whether he could support the goalkeeping coaching at some level.”

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