Andy Halliday feared post Rangers fan reaction at next club as he vows to repay unwavering Hearts faith

Andy Halliday’s own future with Hearts has been secured with a new two year deal.

Now he wants to play a part in helping the next generation of Jambos to fulfill their own hopes and dreams.

The midfielder might be only 30 and isn’t planning on hanging up his boots any time soon but Halliday has already started on the coaching path followed by the likes of Steven Naismith at the club, and while earning his badges is keeping an eye on the Thriving Hearts Academy.

Halliday admits he’d love to repay the faith shown in him by the Gorgie club when he left Rangers two years ago by helping them bring through the next generation of potential first-team stars.

He said: “I realize not only on the field but off it too I’ve a job to do because we have young players. It was brilliant to see them get to the Youth Cup Final, they are the future of the club. And it was brilliant to see four or five of them training with the first-team every single day.

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“I’ve always been one who loves seeing younger players break through, especially younger players who are big Hearts fans as well. To see them train with the first team and break through, that would be brilliant.

“I’ve already done my B license and I’m doing my A license this year as well. That ties into trying to be a role model for the younger players.

“I’d a couple of conversations with Naisy. I’d love to take advantage of the position I’m in and take a little more to do with the 18s, 16s, 14s. By that I don’t mean step on anyone’s toes, just coming to the odd training session here or there.

“I remember being a young player myself. When a first-team player comes out and says hello or says your name when you’re 13, 14, that feeling knowing a first-team player knows your name is amazing.

“I always feel that it gives a player an extra 10 per cent.

Steven Naismith currently works with the Hearts academy

“Even when it comes to players not getting a new contract at Hearts, I’d love to be that player to bridge the gap where they can pick up the phone and give me a wee call about what they can do next.

“I want to take advantage of that fortunate position I’m in because I’m under no illusions that I’m very fortunate to be at a great football club like Hearts.

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“My focus is on being a football player but anytime I get that spare time I’d love to be a bit more involved with the academy.”

Halliday is known as a dyed-in-the-wool Rangers fan but he admits Hearts have got under his skin and he jumped at the chance to add another two years onto his deal.

He added: “It’s not even just the football club, it’s everything that surrounds it.

“It’s the people behind the scenes, the players, the manager, the fans, the stadium, the training facilities. All around it’s just a fantastic football club.

“I’m honest enough to know I don’t have another decade at the top level so for the rest of my career I want to be competing at the highest level possible and try to go deep in competitions.

“I had an honest conversation with the manager in the middle of January and he told me he wanted to offer me a contract. I told him I wanted to stay and negotiations were very easy from then.

“I’m not ashamed to admit that when I left Rangers I was trying to explore different cultures and different leagues and maybe broaden my experiences, purely because I didn’t know what sort of reaction I would get from different fans in Scotland.

“I’m not the most popular player when I go to grounds – I don’t know why – but since the day I walked in the door, Hearts have made me feel really welcome.

“The training facilities are second to none, as is the stadium and for me it ticks every single box and I’m delighted to extend my stay.

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“But most importantly I think we’re a football club that can improve. We’re doing well just now but there’s still a long way to go this season.

“We made it pretty clear behind the four walls at the start of the season where we expected to be in the league and the cup competitions.

“I want to focus on football from now until the end of the season. We’ve got a bit to go. We let a couple of bad performances fester too long which resulted in three defeats in a row.

“We’re pretty adamant we can’t let that happen again. We want to continue the way we showed on Saturday until the end of the season.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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