JIM JEFFERIES has hailed David Weir as the most impressive individual he ever coached in 30 years of management.
And the Tynecastle legend is adamant the former Scotland internationalist is a ‘fantastic’ candidate to oversee a new era in Gorgie.
It would be no exaggeration to suggest that Weir largely owes his career to Jefferies, who signed him for Falkirk in 1992 before taking the classy stopper to the Jambos four seasons later.
He lifted the Scottish Cup with Hearts in 1998 before going on to win 69 caps and enjoy hugely successful stints with Everton and Rangers.
Weir, who has coached at Sheffield United and the Gers, and recently aided Brighton’s scouting department, is now firmly in the frame for a return to Hearts as sporting director.
And Jefferies said: “It’s difficult to name the best players you have ever worked with because they all have their own qualities.
“But if someone forced me to pick the best player in terms of their all-round qualities, it would be Davie.
“He was late to the game when he came into Falkirk. I invited him to train with us and within 10 days I said: ‘we need to sign him’. He did the graft and had the quality. It was just plain to see.
“I feel fortunate to have got the chance to take him to Hearts and we were hugely successful there.
“And he is just the same guy now as he was when he walked into Brockville – professional, hard-working and an all-around terrific person.
“It’s hard to think of many people who command more respect or be more capable.
“If that [sporting director] is where David sees the next step in his career then he’d be a fantastic candidate.”
While Weir was a leader on the pitch and impressive in the dugout, Jefferies reckons a more organisational role could suit his skill-set given his varied path since hanging up his boots in 2012.
Jefferies continued: “Whether Davie has any desire to get back into coaching? Only he could answer that.
“He was a wonderful player, had a terrific career and has coached at a very high level, so that avenue will always be there for him.
“But was recently doing more of a scouting role with players at Brighton and, combined with the other positions he has held, he has built the experience and versatility a sporting director would need.
“Davie has done a little bit of everything and is a very intelligent person so I’ve no doubt he would thrive in that position.”
Hearts owner Ann Budge initially suggested that she would seek to hire a sporting director before a new boss, but carried out a swift U-turn when she snapped up Neilson from Dundee United.
But Jefferies, speaking from experience as the current sporting director of Edinburgh City, has no fears about the prospective relationship between Weir and returning head coach Robbie Neilson.
He continued: “As far as I’m concerned, I’m there to support James [McDonaugh, City manager] and I would never interfere in how he wanted to manage the club.
“Of course, Hearts are a more high profile club, but the principles are the same. If Davie comes in, he’ll have his responsibilities and roles – and Robbie [Neilson] will have his.
“Knowing what a professional, decent guy Davie is, he would respect that. I’m sure they’d have an excellent working relationship.”
Jefferies also reckons the appointment would be another boost for Hearts supporters following a miserable two years, culminating in their recent relegation – albeit enforced – to the Championship.
He added: “That rapport he has with the Hearts fans is vital. It seems like Ann Budge appreciates how important that is by the fact she has brought Robbie back to the club, someone who has Hearts in his DNA.
“Davie is exactly the same. He knows the club very well and would be an immediate lift for the supporters who – let’s be honest – have endured a tough couple of years.
“The club needs a lift and someone to bring everything together. The results haven’t been right, the signings haven’t come off in the way they would have hoped, and clearly Ann sees that need for change.”