Inverness CT confirm return of John Robertson as manager

John Robertson celebrates with No2 Donald Park after his Inverness side defeated Celtic in the Scottish Cup quarter-finals in 2003. Picture: PA
John Robertson celebrates with No2 Donald Park after his Inverness side defeated Celtic in the Scottish Cup quarter-finals in 2003. Picture: PA
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John Robertson has been confirmed as the new manager of Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

The Highland club tweeted a picture of their former boss on Wednesday morning with the hashtag ‘#WelcomeBackRobbo’.

The Hearts goalscoring legend has been handed a dream ‘homecoming’ 13 years after making history with the Highlanders by guiding them into the top flight for the first time.

Robertson, who has been combining an ambassadorial role with coaching duties at the Tynecastle club, was meeting Hearts owner Ann Budge last night with a view to sealing the move north.

He will be charged with leading last season’s relegated Ladbrokes Premiership club to Championship success after winning favour from new chairman Willie Finlayson and his board.

Earlier, Aberdeen youth coach Paul Sheerin and former St Mirren manager Danny Lennon had emerged as frontrunners to succeed sacked Richie Foran.

The 52-year-old Robertson, who won the old First Division title in 2003/04 but left to manage his boyhood club, Hearts, under Vladimir Romanov the following November, looks set to retain the already-contracted Brian Rice as assistant manager.

After being courted as a teenager by Hibernian, Edinburgh-born Robertson netted 310 goals in 719 games across 17 seasons with Hearts in two spells either side of a short stint with Newcastle United.

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Having ended his playing career with Livingston, the 16 times-capped Scotland striker became the Almondvale club’s head coach.

Backed by assistant Donald Park, he replaced Aberdeen-bound Steve Paterson as Inverness manager in 2002, leading them to historic promotion and title glory in his second season before Romanov lured him back to Gorgie as head coach.

That spell ended unhappily despite reaching two cup semi-finals, finishing fifth in the league and enjoying good progress in Europe.

Still with roots in the Highlands, a spell as Ross County manager lasted just four months after his appointment in June 2005 and a fall-out with then-County chairman Peter Swanson.

He took charge at Livingston in February 2006 but was sacked in April 2007 after finishing sixth in the First Division. A spell in Ireland saw him win the FAI League Cup with Derry City before dismissal, while a move to East Fife’s managerial post in October 2010 brought a shock League Cup victory over Aberdeen at Pittodrie.

Since leaving in March 2012, Robertson had worked as a BBC radio pundit as well as being brought into Craig Levein’s coaching team at Tynecastle.

Robertson will inherit a greatly-reduced squad, but one retaining a core of seasoned mainstays of past Scottish Cup success and top-six Premiership finishes.

Wales international goalkeeper Owain Fon Williams, club captain Gary Warren and fellow defenders Carl Tremarco and David Raven remain on board.

Midfield lynchpin Ross Draper and Scotland under-21 international Liam Polworth also remain tied down to deals ahead of the new season.

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