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HEARTS manager Craig Levein said today that he received so many good wishes following his health scare that his daughter joked it was his best ever career move.
Levein is back at work after being rushed to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary’s coronary care unit for treatment on August 27 and only a cold might keep him from returning to the dugout at Motherwell’s Fir Park tomorrow.
The 53-year-old returned to management almost exactly a year earlier, after almost five years out of front-line duties following a spell in charge of Scotland.
He has transformed Hearts into early Premiership leaders and been a colourful presence in media duties since going back to the dugout for the first time since the intensity and scrutiny of international management.
But he admitted being overwhelmed by messages of support after falling ill.
“It was fantastic,” he said. “My daughter said to me: ‘Dad, this is the best career move you’ve ever made.’ Which I thought was quite funny. ‘You should have done it earlier,’ she said.
“It’s been overwhelming really the people who have been in touch, and not just from football but other sports as well.
“I know I have got to speak a little bit about this but I don’t want to go into much detail other than to say I am feeling a hell of a lot better, stronger every day.
“I’m not sitting here thinking I need to get into a philosophical debate about what this has meant. I feel good, I want to get back to doing what I like doing, and keep as much of that private as possible.
“I haven’t 100 per cent made my mind up whether I will be in the dugout on Saturday or not. I have a bit of a cold which has been making me feel a bit lacking in energy.
“But if I am not in the dugout on Saturday I will definitely be there the following week. I have been back this week and have felt good.”
Levein will decide tomorrow whether he is well enough to make the trip to face Stephen Robinson’s side but there was nothing wrong with his sense of humour.
“For me it’s simply about having energy — in case I need to fight with Stephen,” he said.
Levein missed Hearts’ home game against St Mirren before the international break but he picked the team and watched the match on television — in contravention of doctors’ orders — and saw his side wrap up a 4-1 victory before half-time as Austin MacPhee took charge.
“There’s a good staff here, people who can take responsibility,” he said.
“They have responsibility anyway on a day-to-day basis to run their own area. It’s not as if all of a sudden this responsibility landed on their shoulders.
“We have a strong backroom team. A lot of teams will have a manager, assistant manager and a coach, we have an extra coach. Me not being here, things just carried on.
“Everyone has stepped up to the mark in the last couple of weeks, and the players as well. Some of the senior players have been fantastic. Christophe [Berra], who is obviously injured, has been round about and encouraging everybody and keeping people focused.
“That enabled us to beat St Mirren but we have an even tougher test on Saturday. I was at the Motherwell-Rangers game and was impressed by Stephen’s team. They have got their mojo back a bit.”
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