Why I chose Hearts

Austin MacPhee insists he has not snubbed the SFA after accepting Hearts post

New Hearts assistant boss Austin MacPhee insists he has not snubbed the Scottish Football Association after accepting his Tynecastle post.

The Northern Ireland coach was one of the leading contenders to land the SFA’s performance director role after being interviewed by Hampden chiefs last month.

Had he successfully followed through with his bid, he would have been responsible for drawing up the system which would have reared the next generation of Scotland internationalists.

But he has instead decided to join Ian Cathro’s new-look management team in Gorgie.

That leaves the door open for former Cardiff manager Malky MacKay to take over the post which has sat vacant since Brian McClair quit back in July.

But 37-year-old Fifer MacPhee – who like Cathro has no senior playing experience – says only the lure of day-to-day involvement with a first-team swayed him away from pursuing the crucial Hampden position.

The former Cowdenbeath and St Mirren coach – who will carry on with his part-time duties assisting Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill while working at Hearts – said: “It’s nothing to do with (choosing between) the SFA and Hearts. It’s two different career paths.

“One takes you down the technical director route – the other takes you right into the game and coaching, where I currently am with Northern Ireland.

“So whether it was the Icelandic FA, the Scottish FA, the Spanish FA or Hearts, Chelsea or whoever else it might be, it was a choice of career path and not of one (employer) over the other.

“The dialogue with both parties was very open for the past week or so. I believe at this football club we can move out of our comfort zone.

“Many things can do that – ideas, madness, anything that you wish – and I believe the decision to come here will be the right one for my career over time.

“I can only thank the SFA for their patience in me, their exchanging ideas with me. Whoever takes over the performance director role has a very exciting job and things like Project Brave will help take Scottish football forward.

“If I had two of me I’d do both jobs but in life you have to make choices and I’m absolutely convinced I’ve made the right choice.”

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