Robbie Neilson insists Craig Gordon’s Hearts heroics should see him named Player of the Year

Robbie Neilson hailed Craig Gordon’s Hampden wonder save and believes the Hearts keeper should be crowned Scotland’s Player of the Year.

The Jambos number one pulled off a stunning one-handed stop in the Scottish Cup semi-final win over Hibs from a Ryan Porteous header.

That was key in Hearts’ 2-1 victory which was secured thanks to goals from Ellis Simms and Stephen Kingsley.

The 39-year-old stopper is in a terrific form at Tynecastle and could be heading to the World Cup in December with his country.

He’s enjoying a new lease of life under Neilson who has guided Hearts to third in the Premiership and a Scottish Cup Final on May 21.

Now, he wants to see his captain named as Scotland’s best player when awards are dished out next month.

Neilson said: “Craig has been outstanding. I’d expect him to be in the running for Player of the Year.

“In my opinion he should win it because he’s done it every week for us.

“A number of players have performed at different times throughout the season.

“But every week he’s pulled off saves for us and it has helped us massively as a team.

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“The save today was crucial. It’s big names for big games, that’s what Craig does. He steps up to the plate when we need him.

“And it’s not just on the pitch but off it as well. He’s a quiet guy but he leads by example in the group.

“Because of his experience it helps the younger players.

“Where does he rank in terms of Scotland’s great keepers? Well, you’ve got The Goalie, Andy Goram, that I played with myself, Jim Leighton and that’s probably it.

“He’s right up in those echelons. Craig is getting better and better and I am pretty sure he will play for Scotland in the summer as well.”

Hearts’ second derby win over Hibs in eight days was absolutely vital as it guarantees the Tynecastle club European group stage football until Christmas at least next season.

That could give Neilson around £4 million to spend as he looks to strengthen his squad.

He says he’ll spend it wisely because his long-term plan is to have regular European football in Gorgie – and eventually get Hearts challenging the Old Firm for the Premiership title.

He said: “It’s massive for the club. Prior to the game we spoke to the players about forgetting about getting to a final and European football, it’s about winning a derby.

“We won last week and had 20 minutes when we could actually enjoy it.

“No we’ve got probably five months until the next derby, so we can enjoy this now.

“We’ve got five games in the league we want to win to set us up for a Scottish Cup final.

“It’s been a good season, now it’s a very good one – but can we make it a great one?

“What it means in terms of European football will make a difference.

“We’re guaranteed money but we’ve got to be careful how we spend that money. We don’t want to chuck it all in.

“We want to try to build the club gradually over the next three or four years. “What this will do is allow us to position ourselves to try and get in next year again.

“That’s what we need to do, gradually build the club over three, four, five years to get consistent European football and then try to challenge for the title.”

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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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