BY DARREN JOHNSTONE – Capital City Press
Hearts director of football Craig Levein has revealed how he came agonisingly close to bringing ‘genius’ Ian Cathro to the club last season.
But Levein showed there are no hard feelings from the 29-year-old turning him down after introducing the pioneering coaching programme that Cathro developed at Tynecastle.
Former Dundee United manager Levein gave Cathro his big break at Tannadice after seeing how the likes of Ryan Gauld, now at Sporting Lisbon, benefitted from the coach’s BOX Soccer Training programme for kids aged between nine and 12.
Levein rates Cathro so highly that he tried to bring the Scot back to Scotland from Portuguese club Rio Ave last summer, only for the former Brechin City trainee to follow Nuno Santo to Valencia to become the assistant manager at the Mestalla.
Speaking about his attempt to recruit Cathro as the club’s youth manager, Levein said: “Without going too much into it, it was very close a couple of times. It was just the way things have panned out.
“But, listen, he is a great kid and he has done really good things with Rio Ave and Valencia.
“Now he is working down at Newcastle and I am sure that in time he would like to be a manager in his own right.
“I can’t take a lot of credit, but I do have a sense of pride for what he has done.
“I think he is a remarkable young man and that has been proven by where he has got to in a short space of time.
“He has got to a stage in his career where he is sitting in the number two seat at a Premier League club in England.
“I know some of the stuff he did for Nuno was very specific and imaginative. He has a brain that sees things that other people miss. I wish him all the best.
“He has moved up closer to the manager’s role and I am sure in time he will want to be a coach or a head coach in his own right.”
Levein and former team-mate John Colquhoun, a Box Soccer Director, were at Tynecastle to launch the new partnership yesterday.
Levein added: “I have said it before, but I think Ian is a genius when it comes to this type of thing.
“The BOX Soccer programme became part of what we were doing at Dundee United.
“The position that we are in now with developing the academy, it is just perfect for us.”
Levein, meanwhile, has told Rangers that they will not get Jason Holt for nothing after it emerged that the midfielder is training with the Ibrox outfit.
Holt, a product of Hearts’ youth academy, departed Tynecastle earlier this summer in search of regular first team football.
Levein said: “They won’t get him for nothing. The rules are there for compensation.
“That’s a discussion if Rangers want to take him and that will have to take place.
“First and foremost it would be good to see him back playing. Jason is a good player.
“I just think at the period of time, in the position he plays, other people were more likely to start than he was.
“Jason’s a really good player and he’s training with Rangers. I hope that works out for him. he’s a good kid.
“It’s up to Jason and Rangers what kind of impact he makes, if he can get in there and get a regular place. I wish him all the best because he’s a good kid.”
*Hearts have linked up with BOX Soccer Training after Edinburgh-based property maintenance company ARC (Scotland) Ltd donated set-up costs for the project.