Dunfermline ace Callum Smith reveals how sibling rivalry helped little brother Connor Smith to emerge as one of Hearts’ brightest young talents

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CALLUM SMITH reckons his feisty sibling rivalry with little brother Connor has propelled the pair to the professional ranks.

However, the Dunfermline striker admits he may struggle to reclaim the bragging rights after his precocious sibling made a stunning Edinburgh derby debut for Hearts.

Connor Smith, one of the jewels of the Jambos academy, was among the standout stories to come from Sunday’s 1-1 draw at Easter Road, with Craig Levein handing the 17-year-old his first ever start for the club.

Smith’s jersey for his Edinburgh derby bow (Pic: Twitter, @JamTarts)

Despite having only previously played 46 minutes of senior football – as a substitute in an end-of-season dead rubber at Kilmarnock last term – the talented teenager more than held his own against Hibs, particularly during an impressive first period.

And Callum, who has already amassed more than 50 SPFL games for the Pars, Alloa and Arbroath, was far from surprised to see Connor shine – after being his biggest supporter and rival growing up.

“Connor is a really confident boy,” he said. “I’ve seen him come through the age groups and he was always the most assured player on the pitch.

“He is always raring to go, excited for the match and wants to go out there and express himself. I have never seen him overawed by any opponent or occasion.

“It was just the same on Sunday.

“The only time he’s not happy is when he’s not winning! He’s a terrible loser. I think that actually comes from us growing up only a couple of years apart.

Connor Smith expresses his delight on Twitter (Pic: @connorsmith_88)

“We really pushed each other on. Even if I was just out in the back garden kicking a ball about, he’d be out wanting to give me a game and it would turn into a competition.

“I think that was the biggest thing in our development; that sibling rivalry drove us to the limits every day.”

He added: “I don’t know what I’m going to do to get the bragging rights back! Maybe I’ll get the chance to beat him next season – that would do it.

“We’ve actually never played each other, at any age group for any teams. That’s the dream.”

Smith’s nerveless display for the Jambos at the weekend has afforded Levein another midfield option for the Premiership run-in and their mouth-watering Scottish Cup final showdown against Celtic on May 25.

And the man who knows him best is adamant Connor would cope with being pitched into Hearts’ biggest game in seven years.

“I really think he would handle playing in the Cup final,” continued Callum. “I’ve never seen him nervous during a game and, after making the step up to an Edinburgh derby, he was just the same guy.

“I spoke to him after the derby and he just said: ‘I was nervous before the match – but as soon as the whistle blew, it was a game of football’.

“That’s all you can ask from a player and shows he has a strong mentality. He’d be just the same again at Hampden.”

The elder Smith spent the first half of the season on loan at Arbroath, helping them to the League 1 title (Pic: Craig Brown Photography)

Connor’s full debut was watched in person by proud parents Lisa and Barry, whose guidance, support and Taxi duties crafted a burgeoning career that could have potentially seen him turn out for Celtic or even Hibs.

“My mum, my dad and I were all in the house on Saturday when Connor told us he would be starting [the derby] and it was just a mix of surprise and pride,” added Callum. “My parents went to the game to support him on Sunday.

“I’m really happy for them. They would take us all over the country for games. Connor was actually at Celtic for a lot of his time growing up so they would drive him to Lennoxtown three or four nights a week. He was even at Hibs for a bit then got his contract at Hearts.

“I mainly played boys’ club football then went into the Fife Elite academy before joining Dunfermline. So they put in the miles!”

 
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