Douglas Samuel, the new Spartans manager, today paid tribute to his former club Edinburgh University, whom he lead for nine years.
Samuel, who took up the reins at Ainslie Park this week succeeding Sam Lynch and Mike Lawson, said: “I enjoyed a fantastic period with the University and I will always be grateful to the chairman at that time, Ian Smith, who hired me when I had no coaching qualifications and no experience. He took a huge leap of faith by picking me for the job.
“I was with Edinburgh University for longer than any football club I played for including Meadowbank Thistle, Whitehill Welfare, Gala Fairydean, Newtongrange Star and Spartans.
“It has been a joy and a privilege and I have many special memories of Premier Division campaigns, Image Printers, and King Cup wins, and appearing in two British Universities Cup Finals. Edinburgh University will always hold a special place in my heart.”
Samuel was appointed as the Spartans manager following a trophyless season for the club and he added: “The opportunity to come and be part of another fantastic football club, Spartans, is the start of a new journey for me and too good an opportunity to turn down. What Sam and Mike achieved at Spartans is unparalleled and for me this will be like trying to take over from Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United.
“However, I will bring a new approach, a new model and a fresh way of working. At Edinburgh University I co-ordinated the player development programme at various levels and now, at Spartans, I will create a structure that will hopefully take us not only into the SFL but also make us competitive when we get there.
“I want to develop young players and marry them up with the more experienced players at the club. My short-term objective is to speak with every current player and establish what their plans are. That will be my starting point before I identify any players who I want to bring in. There will certainly be opportunities for players currently in the Spartans set up at Under 17, Under 19, Under 21 and Juniors teams and they will be given a chance to shine.
“I have a rebuilding job to do before the introduction of the proposed Lowland League in season 2014-2015 and that is a project that excites me.
“Ideally I want to develop a structure to enable the first team to come from within the club because I enjoy that aspect of football. I also want to build a side which is capable of winning silverware.”
Samuel has appointed Neil Irvine, who was his coach at Edinburgh University, as his assistant manager while former Partick Thistle goalkeeper Mark Cairns will be his goalkeeping coach and Craig Samuel takes up the role as physiotherapist.