London Hearts Supporters Club

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Csaba Laszlo <-auth David Hardie auth-> Craig Thomson
[D Lyle 80]
27 of 027 Marius Zaliukas 18 ;Andrew Driver 58 L SPL A

My Heart is full of pride at Berra's Hearts caps

STEVEN PRESSLEY today spoke of the immense pride he has taken from watching Hearts skipper Christophe Berra grow from a promising kid at Tynecastle to become a Scotland star of the future.
As Jambos captain himself, Pressley took the young Berra under his wing, offering help and encouragement, not to mention the odd word of constructive criticism which has helped mould the 23-year-old into one of the country's most promising defenders. Berra has already taken his first steps on the international stage, winning his first two caps under new boss George Burley and Pressley has no doubts he'll enjoy a long and, hopefully, successful Scotland career.

Pressley, now part of Burley's management team, said: "At Hearts I always tried to help the younger centre-backs, I spoke to them regularly about various aspects of their game, what I thought they could to do improve. I worked closely with Andy Webster and, when we played alongside each other at international level, two Hearts players at the centre of Scotland's defence, filled me with immense pride knowing I had helped him along.

"But I also worked with the young centre-backs who were in the reserves or under-19s, talking to them about how they could improve their game and I like to see players I have worked with progressing.

"Christophe has progressed extremely well. He is a young centre-back who I feel has some really good attributes.

"There are some aspects of his game that he knows he needs to improve and we have spoken about them.

"But he has the attributes to be a good, modern-day centre-back. The modern game is more and more reliant on athleticism, Christophe is a big lad, athletic and aggressive in his play."

Although well aware he could be coaching someone who one day might take the jersey from him, Pressley revealed he never thought of that danger, having taken a close interest in seeing younger team-mates improve wherever he has played.

He said: "I never felt threatened by any young player or any individual in football. As long as you are applying yourself to the best of your own ability, that is all you can ask.

"If younger players come through, progress and are better than you then there is nothing you can do to prevent that.

"I've always taken pride in helping young players come through. Even in my time at Celtic I tried to help the likes of Stephen McManus and Gary Caldwell.

"I always spoke to them and I think that should be expected of senior professionals."

As his own career in football moves from playing – although he has signed a short-term deal with Danish outfit FC Randers – to coaching, Pressley revealed how he's been preparing for this time since the age of 20.

Currently in the final phase of studying for his Pro-Licence which will allow him to coach at any club in the world, 34-year-old Pressley said: "I've always been interested in that side of the game.

"I think the type of player you are can sometimes determine your interest in coaching. As a player I think I am the type who had to learn the game, to have an understanding and so become a far better reader of it.

"Other players who have different attributes can be more instinctive and get away with things. Because of the type I am, I studied the game to improve myself as a player, now I can do that on the coaching side."

And, with a target of one day becoming a club manager, Pressley revealed he believes his move to Denmark can help continue his footballing education without disrupting the role he plays with the national side alongside Burley and Terry Butcher.

He said: "One of the key factors in any contract I negotiated was that it did not affect my position with the national team. For me it is a wonderful opportunity at the age of 34 to be involved in the managerial set-up.

"I take that role very seriously, I want to try to help George in every manner I can and the Danes were very understanding. At the time, I was appointed to the Scotland backroom staff I made it clear from day one I wanted to continue playing.

"I intend to keep playing as long as I can to the level that is expected. If I go to Denmark and do not feel I can still play to that level I will then consider my future beyond that.

"But going to Denmark will also help my football education. I will learn how they play in Scandinavia and I think it is important you continue to learn.

"I have my own thoughts and philosophy as to how football should be played but that can be influenced all the time.

"I've always wanted to take in what managers have to say on the game, when I've gone to games I've watched individuals but I've also looked at the tactical set-up managers employ."

Pressley has worked with a host of managers over a career which encompassed Rangers, Coventry City, Dundee United and Hearts and he insisted that experience will stand him in good stead when he feels the time is right to make that move himself.

He said: "Whether you think a manager is good, bad or indifferent. you can always learn, there's no doubt about that. You take little bits and pieces from every coach you work with and that's why in football you have to be open-minded.

"You can be clear about your own philosophy but you must also look at ways of improving yourself."

Burley, of course, is attempting to relay his own philosophy on how the game should be played to his international squad which faces its toughest test so far under the new manager's reign in Saturday's opening World Cup qualifier against Macedonia in Skopje.

And, if the Scots are still seeking a first win following three friendles under Burley, Pressley has no doubts they'll be up to the challenge. He said: "Of course, you want to win every game but as long as you can see your team progressing and understanding the philosophy you are trying to get over then you can be satisfied.

"I think we are moving in the right direction, more and more with the meetings we've had, the shaping of the team on the training ground the players are beginning to understand more of what is expected.

"It's our first competitive match but 12 years without a win in a friendly I think shows we need to play with an edge to our game.

"Other countries are more reliant on the technical aspects of the game but while we have some very good technical players the way we play the game we need that edge. We are a very competitive nation and I think the combination of that and an improving technical ability means we are more suited to this sort of match."

Taken from the Scotsman

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