JOHN Robertson is convinced Tony Watt could still prove to be one of the best players ever produced in Scotland, despite his failure to make an impression at Hearts.
Watt joined Hearts from Charlton Athletic on a season-long loan last summer but that agreement was cut short when the former Celtic striker was allowed to return south last week.
The 23-year-old managed just one goal in 17 appearances for the Jambos and did not start a match after November 21 as a move that promised so much fell flat.
Robertson regards the Scotland cap as one of the ‘best natural talents’ he has witnessed in Scottish football and insists he was desperate for him to come good at Tynecastle.
However, after being left ‘surprised and disappointed’ the switch did not prove a success, Robbo is desperate for there to be a happy ending to a career that has proved wayward since the goal against Barcelona for Celtic that still defines his first-team days.
The Gorgie legend said: “In the first few games he played for Hearts, he showed the ability he has got is frightening.
“I spent a lot of time with him and he’s a lovely kid. I chatted to him and tried to get into his head to see what made him tick.
“You will hear every manager say his talent is unquestionable. It’s about what Tony Watt wants to get out of the game and what he can deliver.
“It’s at the stage where he and his agent and the people who know him need to sit him down and ask him if he knows what he has got – then go and show it.
“This kid could be anything he wants. He’s one of the best natural talents I’ve seen in Scotland.
“Every manager in the game will see Tony’s ability and think: ‘I can get through to him.’
“He’s a challenge but, if you get that challenge right, Tony Watt could be one of the best players Scotland has ever produced.”
Robertson, who was talking to promote a charity match between Hearts Legends and Army Legends at Oriam Sports Performance Centre on March 5, hopes Hearts’ most recent signings prove more successful after new head coach Ian Cathro snapped up Aaron Hughes and Lennard Sowah on short-term deals.
Question marks have been raised over Hughes’ advancing years, with the former Newcastle United and Fulham defender now 37.
However, Robertson insists he has the perfect example from his own playing days as to the benefit of having older players to call on.
He added: “It’s an interesting one because the mandate was to bring in players to improve and sell on, but the squad has needed experience.
“Aaron Hughes is 37 and I played with one of the great Scottish defenders who won a Scottish player of the year award at 37 – Sandy Jardine.
“His influence on Craig Levein, Dave Macpherson and Tosh McKinlay was incredible.
“Can Aaron Hughes do the same for John Souttar, Igor Rossi, Liam Smith, Callum Paterson? Of course he can.
“The one thing money can’t buy is experience and Aaron has it by the barrowload. Sometimes people arrive at a club at the right time and Aaron Hughes looks like a guy who can come here and have a major influence.”
Meanwhile, Robertson insists he is back to full health after a fall at Tynecastle left him in hospital for five days with broken ribs and a punctured lung.
He explained: “Obviously it was a wee bit of a scare. I missed my footing, bounced down about eight concrete stairs and lived to tell the tale.
“So, it was three broken, two fractured and a punctured lung.
“It’s the worst injury I’ve ever had – I never had anything like that in my football career.”