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The Driver in the maroon pick-up . . .

Andrew Driver clearly has a strong sense of irony, for when the former Hearts midfielder ordered a new pick-up truck recently the colour he specified was maroon.

Andrew Driver bears no grudge with Hearts for the way he left,  and admits he is pleased that the club is now in safe hands. Picture: Getty Images
Andrew Driver bears no grudge with Hearts for the way he left, and admits he is pleased that the club is now in safe hands. Picture: Getty Images

Given the messy manner of his departure from Tynecastle last year, when he was a victim of the club's financial meltdown, he could be forgiven for harbouring a deep aversion to that shade.

But a lengthy conversation with the 26-year-old in the Scotland rugby team's hotel in Houston reveals that Driver is not the sort of fellow to harbour any sort of grudge. He has reinvented himself in the USA, playing for MLS side Houston Dynamo, and life is too good these days to cloud it with dark thoughts of the past.

Indeed, Driver's memories of his time at Hearts seem as warm as the Texas sun, and he still has an obvious affection for the club that nurtured his young talent, where he spent seven seasons and made almost 150 appearances.

"I don't get to watch as many games as I would like but of course I still keep an eye on Hearts," said Driver. "I still have a lot of friends at Tynecastle.

"Listen, things ended there for me in the way they did. My contract was ripped up and I lost my job when the club went into administration. There were times when I didn't think things were done right, but Hearts brought me through and did well for me."

That Gorgie is still not an oasis of calm was made abundantly clear last month when new owner Ann Budge, having appointed Craig Levein as director of football, ushered Gary Locke out of the manager's office and invited Robbie Neilson in. While some might have wondered if the rules of the madhouse still applied, Driver had mixed feelings about it all.

"I was sad to see Lockey lose his job," he said. "I thought he did fantastically well last season with all the kids he brought through and dealing with everything that was happening in the background.

"The club could probably have done without more upheaval but the good thing is it's Hearts people still in charge at the club. Sure, I feel sorry for Lockey but Hearts are in good hands."

Driver has landed on his feet as well. The MLS salary cap system means he is not going to become eye-wateringly wealthy during his Stateside sojourn [although his new wheels suggest he is not on a pittance either] but he appreciates the fact he is enriching himself in other ways.

The travel demands have certainly broadened his mind as well as his air miles collection. "I love it out here, it's probably one of the best things I've ever done moving to America," he said. "You can be coast to coast for games two or three days apart. We were up playing in Colorado and I could hardly catch a breath because we were so high above sea level.

"Then you fly back down to Houston and the heat at this time of year would kill you. It's so hard to win on the road because each place has its own advantage for the home team."

It is not so long since Driver, who was born in Oldham and spent the first 11 years of his life in Lancashire, was one of the brightest hopes in Scottish football, attracting interest from a host of top clubs and the subject of a conflict between the Scottish and English authorities.

Yet while most players' moves to America are an admission that their best years are in the past, Driver still has ambitions. He is not consumed by them, though, and is happy now to take each day as it comes.

"When I was younger I used to worry and think about my next move but that's not the case anymore," he explained. "My family are back home and I miss them and my friends, but I've got a girlfriend out here and we're living together in a great part of town. I don't miss that much. I like the lifestyle here, it suits me."

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