FORMER Hearts and Inverness midfielder Angus Beith admits he has been ‘humbled’ by the response to his enforced retirement, revealing he spent three days responding to well-wishers.
The football community and supporters alike have rallied around the 23-year-old after a degenerative hip injury similar to the issue which Sir Andy Murray has battled robbed him of a promising playing career.
He was inundated with messages when he finally decided to hang up his boots in April following years of knocks, niggles and dull pain. It speaks volumes for his personality that he was determined to reply to every single text, WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter message.
Beith’s phone went wild again when it was announced that Hearts and Inverness would be squaring off in a benefit match in his honour on Monday following some groundwork by big-hearted Caley Jags boss John Robertson, leaving the lad from Edinburgh somewhat taken aback.
“I feel really grateful to Hearts and Inverness for getting in sorted and to have the support of all the fans and well-wishers has been really special,” said Beith.
“In the first three or four days after I announced I wouldn’t be playing any more, it was mad. I spent three days just getting back to everyone! It was amazing to read all the messages and have that support. It was overwhelming at the time.
“Since this fixture has been announced, that has been replicated again.
“It seems like a lot of people are interested and want to turn up to the game – and it’s all a bit humbling really.”
Beith struggles to sum up the debt of gratitude he owes Robertson, a Hearts icon now in the dugout at Inverness.
He snapped up the classy playmaker from the Jambos last summer following a dazzling campaign on loan from Stranraer, fully expecting the youngster to fulfill his undoubted potential.
However, when it became clear that injury would cruelly render that impossible, Robertson immediately turned his focus to looking after the man, rather than the footballer.
He helped get Beith in the door as a coach at Hearts and was the driving force behind this upcoming fixture.
“John Robertson has been a huge figure for me, from the moment I first told him about my situation,” he recalled. “I said ‘I think this is it – I think I’m done’, and he has been a pillar of strength for me since then.
“One of the first things he did was get on the phone to the academy director at Hearts [Roger Arnott] and say ‘this is Angus’s situation, is there a coaching role for him there?’
“He set the wheels in motion for the next stage of my career.
“This game has been driven by him as well. I can’t say enough good things about what he has done for me. He has always been one of the best man managers around, but this? It’s something else.”
Articulate and bright, there is little doubt Beith will bounce back from the devastation of early retirement. He is, by his own admission, just starting to ‘find his voice’ as a coach with the Hearts under-12s and is two years into an Open University course in Business Management.
He adds: “I want to work in football in some way and would love to have a crack at coaching or management, but I am keeping my options open. That would be my top target and that’s what I am working towards right now.
“I am doing a business degree as well, with a view to having the attributes to work behind the scenes and more on the business side of things if that’s where my career takes me.
“That was a lot easier when I was playing football! If it was a single session then I’d be home at half-one and I could crack on with a bit of Uni work, but my schedule is pretty hectic these days.
“It’s a challenge to juggle it and manage my time but I’m sure it’ll be worth it in the long-run.”