|Full name||Robert Neilson|
|Date of birth||19 June 1980|
|Place of birth||Paisley, Scotland|
|Height||1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)|
|Playing position||Defender (retired)|
|Heart of Midlothian (head coach)|
|1996–1999||Heart of Midlothian|
|1999–2009||Heart of Midlothian||200||(1)|
|1999–2000||→ Cowdenbeath (loan)||8||(0)|
|2002–2003||→ Queen of the South (loan)||13||(0)|
|2011||→ Brentford (loan)||15||(0)|
|2014–||Heart of Midlothian|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
Robbie Neilson (born 19 June 1980) is a retired Scottish football player and current head coach of Heart of Midlothian (Hearts) in the Scottish Premiership. Neilson, who played as a defender, started his senior career with Hearts, making 200 Scottish Premier League (SPL) appearances and winning the Scottish Cup in 2006 with the club. Earlier on in his career, Neilson was loaned to Scottish Football League (SFL) clubs Cowdenbeath and Queen of the South. After failing to agree a new contract with Hearts, Neilson left and signed for English Championship club Leicester City in 2009. After about a year he was dropped from the Leicester first team, and was loaned to Brentford, and was then given a free transfer in the summer of 2011. Neilson played for Dundee United during the 2011–12 season, and later played for Falkirk and East Fife. He became Hearts' head coach in 2014, winning the Scottish Championship title in his first season.
Born in Paisley, Scotland, Neilson was originally attached to Rangers, the team he supported, through their Boys Club system. He joined Hearts Youth Academy at 16 as he felt it offered him a better chance of eventual first-team football and career progression.
He had time on loan at Cowdenbeath in 1999. In August 2002 Neilson joined Dumfries club Queen of the South on loan. Neilson helped the club consolidate their Scottish First Division status and win the 2002 Scottish Challenge Cup Final, beating Brechin City 2–0. Neilson made 17 appearances for Queens including a man of the match performance at Clyde. He returned to Tynecastle in January 2003.
A high point in his career came in 2004 with his match-winning goal in Hearts' 2–1 away win over FC Basel in the 2004–05 UEFA Cup, his first in any competition for the club. He scored his first league goal for Hearts in a 3–1 win over Livingston later that season.
On 4 February 2009 he was given the role of Hearts' captain after the departure of Christophe Berra. Manager Csaba Laszlo did not start contract talks with Neilson until the season drew to a close. As a result of the new wage structure at Hearts, Neilson and the club could not reach an agreement for a new contract.
In search of a new challenge, Neilson agreed terms with English Championship club Leicester City on 21 May 2009. The next day the club confirmed that he had signed a pre-contractual agreement and would join them in July. Signing a three-year contract, Neilson set his sights on helping the club win promotion to the Premier League. He made his debut in a 0–0 draw against Ipswich Town at Portman Road on 15 August, becoming the 1000th player to debut for the club in a competitive match. Neilson finished the season with 19 league games for Leicester. He scored his first goal for the club in a 4–3 League Cup win over Macclesfield Town on 10 August 2010.
On 17 February 2011, Neilson joined Brentford on loan for a month, which was extended until the end of the season on 23 March 2011. On 3 April 2011 Neilson started in the 2011 Football League Trophy Final playing the full 90 minutes. Carlisle United won the match 1–0 On 27 May 2011, manager Sven-Göran Eriksson allowed Neilson along with Michael Lamey to speak to other clubs in search of more regular first team opportunities.
After training briefly with Falkirk and Burton Albion, Neilson agreed to sign a contract with Dundee United on 15 November 2011 until the end of the 2011–12 season. His debut for the Tannadice Park club was against his former club Hearts on 19 November 2011. Neilson soon became a regular in the first team and manager Peter Houston said he was keen to keep Neilson at the club. At the end of the season, Neilson was offered a new contract but he turned the offer down and was released by the club.
After his release, Neilson was linked with Scottish First Division side Falkirk. Neilson played as a trialist for Falkirk in a league match against Dunfermline Athletic on 6 October 2012 that ended in a 2–2 draw. Neilson unfortunately suffered a cheekbone injury during the match. Neilson recovered from this injury to sign for the club and play in a further two league matches. These were both 2–1 defeats, at Raith Rovers on 10 November 2012 and at Livingston on 17 November 2012.
After recovering from a knee operation, and having done some coaching work, he signed a short-term deal with Falkirk until the Summer of 2013.
On 31 August 2013, Neilson returned to Hearts being appointed as U20s Development Manager. New club owner Ann Budge promoted Neilson to the head coach position, working for director of football Craig Levein, in May 2014. Neilson's first official match in charge was a 3–1 home defeat of Annan Athletic in the Scottish Challenge Cup on 26 July 2014. His Hearts team began their league campaign against Rangers away from home. An injury time goal from Osman Sow wrapped up the points in a 2–1 win. Neilson followed this up by beating rivals Hibernian. Neilson was awarded Championship manager of the month for August 2014 after five straight wins. Having gone through the first 13 league games unbeaten, dropping only four points, Neilsons Hearts side moved 9 points clear of Rangers on 22 November 2014 with a 2–0 victory over second placed Gers at Tynecastle. His team remained undefeated for their first 20 leagues matches until a 3–2 home defeat to Falkirk ended that run on 24 January 2015. Neilson collected manager of the month twice more for October and November during Hearts' unbeaten league run. Neilson's team handed Cowdenbeath a joint club record 10–0 defeat on 28 February 2015. Neilson, who won his fourth manager of the month award for March, won his first silverware as a head coach on 22 March 2015 as Hearts won the Scottish Championship after Rangers beat Hibernian 2–0, and were promoted to the Scottish Premiership after only one season away. Having clinched the title with seven games remaining, his team won the title in impressive style winning 29 of 36 games, scoring 96 goals, conceding just 26 goals with a points total of 91. They finished the season 21 points ahead of nearest challengers city-rivals Hibernian and 24 points ahead of third placed Rangers. Neilson was shortlisted for PFA Scotland Manager of the Year, but lost out to John Hughes of Inverness CT.
Honours and Achievements
- Heart of Midlothian
- Queen of the South
- Heart of Midlothian
- As of match played 27 August 2016
|Heart of Midlothian||May 2014||Present||94||56||18||20||59.57|
- Barry Hugman's Footballers - Robbie Neilson
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- "Neilson signs pre-contract agreement". www.LCFC.co.uk. Leicester City F.C. 22 May 2009. Archived from the original on 2012-02-18. Retrieved 22 May 2009.
- "Ipswich 0 - 0 Leicester". BBC Sport. 15 August 2009. Retrieved 11 February 2010.
- "Leicester 4 - 3 Macclesfield". BBC Sport. 10 August 2010. Retrieved 25 December 2010.
- "Neilson joins Bees on loan". www.LCFC.co.uk. Leicester City F.C. 17 February 2011. Archived from the original on 2011-09-23. Retrieved 17 February 2011.
- "Reed and Neilson extend loan deals at Brentford". BBC Sport. BBC. 23 Mar 2011. Retrieved 24 Mar 2011.
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- "Neilson signs on at Bayview". heraldscotland.com. 10 September 2013. Retrieved 10 September 2013.
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- "Robbie returns". heartsfc.co.uk. 31 August 2013. Archived from the original on 2013-11-02. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
- McLauchlin, Brian (12 May 2014). "Craig Levein lands Hearts role as boss Gary Locke exits". BBC Sport. BBC. Retrieved 12 May 2014.
- Hearts 3-1 Annan Athletic BBC Sport. 26-07-2014. Retrieved 20-05-2015.
- Rangers 1-2 Hearts BBC Sport. 10-08-2014. Retrieved 20-05-2015.
- Hearts 2-1 Hibernian BBC Sport. 17-08-2014. Retrieved 20-05-2015.
- Neilson lands August award SPFL. 11-09-2014. Retrieved 20-05-2015.
- Hearts 2-0 Rangers BBC Sport. 22-11-2014. Retrieved 20-05-2015.
- Hearts 2-3 Falkirk: Jambos Unbeaten Run Ends Edinburgh Evening News. 24-01-2015. Retrieved 18-05-2015.
- Neilson wins October award SPFL. 07-11-2014. Retrieved 20-05-2015.
- Robbie Neilson eyes main prize after manager award BBC Sport. 11-12-2014. Retrieved 20-05-2015.
- Heart of Midlothian 10-0 Cowdenbeath BBC Sport. 28-02-2015. Retrieved 18-05-2015.
- Robbie Neilson wins 4th manager of the month award The Scotsman. 10-04-2015. Retrieved 20-05-2015.
- Hibernian 0-2 Rangers BBC Sport. 21-03-2015. Retrieved 20-05-2015.
- Hearts have been SPFL Championship title winners Scotzine. 22-03-2015. Retrieved 18-05-2015.
- PFA Scotland Manager of the Year 2014-15 nominees PFA Scotland. 30-04-2015. Retrieved 19-05-2015.
- PFA Scotland Awards 2014-15 winners PFA Scotland. 04-05-2015. Retrieved 19-05-2015.
- "Scots green light for Neilson". Sky Sports. BSkyB. Retrieved 21 October 2009.
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