Steven Naismith explains why he is retiring to take up a new role at Hearts
The club captain has called time on his 18-year senior playing career, stating that he feel the time is right to focus on helping young players progress to the first team at Tynecastle Park.
He will carry the title of Football Development Manager at Hearts and will work closely with manager Robbie Neilson to help academy graduates transition to senior football.
Naismith played for Kilmarnock, Rangers, Everton, Norwich City and Hearts during a career at the highest level. He also won 51 Scotland caps but outlined his excitement at his new role when speaking to the Edinburgh club’s website.
“It is always a big decision for any player to hang up his boots, but I feel the time is now right to make a transformation from playing into a football development role,” said the forward.
“I am fortunate and delighted that Hearts see me as someone that can bring a positive dynamic to the football development structure at the club, where I will be assisting and shaping the development of players making their way towards the first team.
“That point of transition is a very big one, as I know that from personal experience. The players need not only to be right technically and physically but also mentally, and I look forward to working with the players at Hearts and the directors, management, coaching, analysts, medical and science staff to give the manager the type of first-team ready players that can enhance the selection options he has.
“I have had great experiences and opportunities to learn from many great players, coaches, managers, analysts, sports scientists, doctors, physios, fitness, strength and speed coaches at club and international level. I will look to bring that experience and learning to the role and also seek to continue my path of ongoing education and self-development that have been part of my career to date.”
Player development is an issue he feels strongly about. Given his vast experience of top-level football in Scotland and England, he believes he can offer something to the next generation of Hearts players.
“There are many people for me to thank for the opportunities of the past which I will do personally, but I feel today is about the future,” he added.
“I would, however, like to thank the chairman Ann, the Chief Executive Andrew, the Sporting Director Joe and especially the Manager Robbie for their help in making this transition as smooth as possible.
“A special thanks also has to go to the supporters of Hearts for welcoming me from day one and making me feel part of this special club. I am truly excited by this new opportunity and thank Hearts for this offer to move to the next stage of my career.”