Steven Naismith is a fine player but laughing in the face of opponents is an unseemly trait

Someone with Steven Naismith’s best interests at heart really needs to have a word in his ear. All being well, the striker will likely earn his 52nd Scotland cap later this month against Israel.

Steven Naismith enjoys Hearts' derby win over Hibs. Picture: Ross Parker / SNS

Now 33, he’s rightly considered one of the finest Scottish players of his generation. However, he risks eroding the respect he’s amassed over that period – on and off the pitch – with some of his antics.

It’s not just once or twice either. He was in Steven Gerrard’s face at half-time of last Saturday’s Scottish Cup tie with Rangers, unnecessarily so.

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He later admitted he was arguing over something he’d been mistaken about – Loic Damour’s handball. He thought it had been a Rangers player’s hand(s).

A particularly unpleasant trait is his habit of goading players by laughing hysterically in their face and pointing at them. He did this with Dundee’s Darren O’Dea last season and more recently, during Tuesday night’s 3-1 win over Hibs, when the target for his provocation seemed to be Stephane Omeonga. And what was that on Naismith’s arm? Yes, the skipper’s armband.

Perhaps the worst incident of the lot is when he bent over a stricken Jonny Hayes and snarled in his face after the Celtic player was injured following a robust challenge by the Irishman 
during a game in August 2018. Naismith did at least apologise later.

Yes, he’s a warrior, one who demands the best from his own team-mates and gets in their faces as well. It’s for them to decide whether this, too, crosses a line – from the stand, it sometimes seems to.

But the other stuff is unseemly in the extreme. It was a surprise to see the official Hearts Twitter feed twice tweet out the latest photograph of him laughing and gesturing at Omeonga, once with a laughing face emoji.

It’s beneath Hearts – and 
this type of behaviour should also be beneath 
Naismith.

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