BY DARREN JOHNSTONE @CCP_Sport
Former Hearts defender Jose Goncalves admits Robbie Neilson’s success in the dugout has come as no surprise, because he was inspired by him as a player.
Goncalves played alongside Neilson during his four-and-a-half years at Tynecastle when then owner Vladimir Romanov’s was overseeing his controversial reign.
And despite a host of off-field problems blighting the club, the Portuguese admits he loved every minute of his time in Edinburgh.
On the park, Goncalves, who now plays for MLS side New England Revolution, was impressed by fellow defender Neilson’s attitude and he is delighted to see him play a pivotal role in the club’s recovery after going into administration.
Goncalves said: “I am really happy for Robbie. Hearts have a new team with young talent and it’s great for him and the city.
“There are no surprises about Robbie being a really good manager.
“I played alongside him and he was always a very honest player, he gave everything on the field.
“He has great character first of all. You can see the difference if you have a great character as manager, you can talk with your players and they will respect you.
“He is doing a great job, you can see the results. He’s a great guy and I believe he can be a big manager in the future.”
Goncalves was back in Edinburgh earlier this week to see a £3,500 state-of-the-art garden hut, which is effectively a games room, that he bought for 12-year-old epileptic sufferer Adam Cusack.
Goncalves is best friends with Adam’s dad Frankie, who used to wash the Hearts players’ cars.
And the versatile defender admits he is thrilled to see Hearts, who are third in the Premiership ahead of Sunday’s visit of Celtic, thriving on and off the park following the ruinous reign of Russian-born banker Romanov.
He added: “It’s great to see Hearts doing well again. It was really sad when I saw them going through all the problems.
“As someone that played for them, it was sad.
“You try to help but you can’t really help. It was great to see them win the Championship and now they are doing really well in the Premiership.
“For me it’s great, I’m really happy for them and the club.
“I had a great time in Edinburgh when I was there and I really like coming back to where people are nice to me, that’s a sign of respect.”