Caithness football president tips Mackay-Steven to be a success at Hearts
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County football president Murray Coghill has tipped Gary Mackay-Steven to be a success at Hearts following the winger's move from New York City.
The 30-year-old from Thurso signed for the Championship leaders on Friday after a year-and-a-half in Major League Soccer.
“It's a good move for him, a good move for Hearts and probably good for Scottish football,” Coghill said.
The former Celtic, Aberdeen and Dundee United player agreed a deal with the Tynecastle club until 2023 after his contract in America expired.
Coghill has been involved in youth coaching for decades as well as being the long-serving Caithness AFA president, and he remembers how Mackay-Steven stood out as a youngster.
“He played for Swifts when I was coaching Pentland Boys' Club but I was involved with picking a Caithness boys' team and Gary was always in it, of course," Coghill said.
“He was a tremendous wee player and he was playing with good players as well, Davie Allan and guys like that. A great bunch of kids came through at that time.
“A lot of guys at that age group went to Ross County at that time. They did take the best of them but they didn't keep very many.
“He has been around a wee bit now and has been unfortunate with injuries. He didn't really hit it off in America but hopefully he's made enough money to set himself up for life."
Mackay-Steven has two full caps for his country and Coghill says it will be interesting to see if the winger can push himself into contention for an international recall ahead of the European Championship finals. "Whether he'll get into Steve Clarke's reckoning I don't know," he added.
Mackay-Steven began his youth career with Ross County before joining Liverpool in 2007 but was released after a two-year spell in which he suffered a series of injury problems. He signed for Airdrie United in 2011.
He made his Scotland debut in 2013 when he came off the bench in a friendly draw with the USA at Hampden Park. He made his second Scotland appearance in 2018, also at Hampden and again as a substitute, and set up Steven Naismith's goal in a 3-1 defeat to Portugal.
Mackay-Steven won four major honours during his time at Celtic. He moved to New York City in June 2019 after leaving Aberdeen.
After losing out on penalties to Orlando City in the 2020 MLS Cup play-offs, New York City announced they had declined a contract option for Mackay-Steven for the 2021 season. He remained with the squad for their Concacaf Champions League quarter-final defeat to Mexican side Tigres.
The transfer to Hearts was the first to be completed by the Tynecastle club's head coach Robbie Neilson during the January transfer window. Neilson will be hoping Mackay-Steven can help propel the team to a quick return to Scotland's top flight.
In an Instagram post, Mackay-Steven said: "Very happy to be back in Scotland and part of another massive club. Exciting times ahead at Hearts."