Lewis Neilson hopes a reunion with Robbie Neilson can help him slam into top form, after joining Hearts on a three-year contract from Dundee United.
Robbie and Lewis first worked together at Tannadice when Robbie was United boss, with the gaffer handing the young Lewis his introductory taste to first-team football with the Terrors.
The manager had a big influence on the course of the younger Neilson’s career, and Lewis says the opportunity to work with his old gaffer again wasn’t one he could let pass him by.
“It’s great to be here. As soon as I heard that Hearts were interested, it was top of the list for me. A massive club looking ahead to European football that had a great season last year,” he told Hearts TV.
“I’d been at Tannadice for the last ten years, and I owe a lot to them. I just felt it was time to move on and make the next step. After speaking to Joe Savage and Robbie Neilson, I knew this was the right place to come and play football.
“When I first came into the pro set up at United, Robbie quickly brought me and Chris Mochrie up into the first team. I got to train every day and he gave me my first taste of first team football by putting me on the bench.
“I made my debut against St. Johnstone when I was 17. Played ten times in my first season, but had to sit out for six months in the season just gone. I’m here now ready to play football.
“I was a midfielder all through my academy days, but I think Robbie liked the look of me at centre-back. He moved me there and I’ve loved it ever since.”
Lewis was given the tour of Tynecastle and Oriam today by Joe Savage, as the 19-year-old took a look around his new home.
With the squad pencilled in to report for pre-season training in late June, Lewis says he’s excited to get to work with a group of players he’s admired from afar.
“I’m excited to play with the guys here. Some of the lads at United know them and were telling me what great professionals they are, and to make sure to stick with them,” he added.
“I was excited before coming here today, but after seeing the facilities even more so. It’s a different level and I can’t wait to get started.”