Joe Jordan tonight makes a return to the club where he experienced a ‘learning curve’ in his early managerial career.
It was between 1990 and 1993 that our First Team Coach managed tonight’s Europa League opponents Hearts.
He took over at the Edinburgh club just two years after first entering into management with Bristol City, and admits leading a Scottish Premier League club was a ‘big step’ at the time.
Joe took Hearts to second place behind Rangers in the league and two Scottish Cup semi-finals during his time at Tynecastle before his reign ended in 1993.
His coaching career went on to take him to Celtic, the Northern Ireland national team and a number of other English clubs before arriving at the Lane in 2008.
But Joe insists his time at Hearts still stands out.
He said: “It was a long time ago. I went up there with a young family and it was a big step for me. It was a very knowledgeable period for me.
“It doesn’t matter where you’ve been, you have to have eyes and ears open to take it all in and learn. I did.
“I was very fortunate I had good people around me, like Frank Conner who knew about the levels of football in which I wasn’t as knowledgeable as I would have liked.
“I had a chief scout in John Calderwood who, other than brought in players necessary for first-team level, also had a major part in getting the young boys into Hearts, which was a necessity.
“It was a learning curve for me up there, not just with Scottish football, but with management and coaching.”
And who better to comment on the intensity of an Anglo-Scottish clash in Europe – something we will be facing tonight for the first time since 1973, when we took on Aberdeen in the UEFA Cup.
Joe added: “If you go across the border you know you are going to get a game that is intense and vocal, and that’s just the crowd. Then you have to play the opposition.
“In recent seasons it hasn’t happened as often but it’s always a good fixture because it gives it more than playing in a different country. With the supporters it creates an atmosphere. I expect that atmosphere created by both sets of supporters.
“When we get to Tynecastle, it will be a sell-out, very compact, but the manager here knows the Scottish crowd and what it means. There are players in both camps who are not Scottish or English but when the supporters remember, it will certainly add to the intensity of the game.”