Gordon Forrest is at home on the training pitch. Whether it be in Tenerife, Edinburgh, Dundee, Canada or New Zealand. Wherever football has taken him one aspect has remained constant: the desire to be on the grass coaching and coaxing players to develop and deliver.

The 47-year-old brings a wealth of experience to the Heart of Midlothian management team under Steven Naismith having begun his coaching journey in his late 20s. It is a journey that has taken him out of Scotland for eight years and across three continents, and he has worked under a variety of managers while also helping mentor coaches at different levels. And not to forget, picking up some Spanish along the way.

But it all leads back to being out on the pitch with the players and delivering sessions.

"Naisy has been great in terms of the technical staff of Frankie [McAvoy], myself and Gall [Paul Gallacher]," Forrest explained. "He gives us a lot of responsibility to get on with our jobs.

"I am heavily involved in the session designs along with the delivery on the pitch as well. Between us on the tactical side, we have key areas we focus on more individually. We are looking at the bigger picture but we all take a chunk of certain aspects of the game.

"We've got these six key focus areas we try to work on whether it is ourselves, the opposition. We take a more in-depth chunk of that. I'll maybe take out of possession, Nasiy in possession, Frankie set plays, Gall the goalkeeping and then the two transitional moments and a bit of game management within that as well. We are zoned in on areas but I am someone who wants to be on the pitch as much as I can and it's about how you can support the manager as an assistant.

"I've done it for 17/18 years with a few different managers in a few different countries. It's trying to find out how the manager wants you within that role and what you can give him and Naisy has been excellent."

There were likely a few eyebrows raised over the makeup of Naismith's coaching team. While McAvoy had a key role in the academy and fostered that relationship with the now head coach, Forrest had worked with outgoing manager Robbie Neilson for a few years.

They first linked up at Dundee United when Forrest had returned from Vancouver Whitecaps after six years in different roles with the MLS side. He was set to take a job with the Scottish FA as a coach education manager until Neilson approached him. After a Championship success at Tannadice, he would follow Neilson to Tynecastle despite an opportunity to stay in the City of Discovery.

Naismith was keen for Forrest to remain having experienced his coaching as a player. For Forrest, there were no doubts about where he wanted to be. A conversation was had with Neilson who he retains a strong relationship with, the former Hearts boss now managing in the second tier in America.

Forrest worked under Robbie Neilson at Dundee United and Hearts.Forrest worked under Robbie Neilson at Dundee United and Hearts. (Image: SNS)

"I have full respect for Robbie, we worked together at Dundee United," he said. "He made the move and there was an opportunity to stay but he asked me to come to Hearts. It didn't go to plan eventually but I think there was still some great work done.

"When it did happen I had a good conversation with Robbie and Naisy asked me to be part of his coaching team. It was good to speak to Robbie to get his thoughts. I'm in a different situation than the manager, we have good respect for each other and he understands I like to be on the pitch to keep working and I fortunately got a chance to work with Naisy.

"He obviously worked with me from a player perspective. It was a discussion that we had and it was great to stay at the club."

He added: "That's four managers I've worked with but I am still close with them, got good relationships."

And what does he make of the latest head coach he is working under?

"Excellent," he said of Naismith. "I've got a coach education background, working with the SFA and New Zealand football, delivered on a lot of courses, worked with a lot of coaches mentoring but Naisy's done it the right way.

"His playing career is fantastic, the clubs he has played with, the managers he's played under, he's a thinker of the game. He went into coach with the 18s to the B team. He's done it in a great way and learned what he wants to do as a coach and try things with the 18s and B team, the first-team is a little bit different so he's gained a lot of experience doing it that way.

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"He knows what he wants to do which is important. He's got a clear idea for the team and the identity of how we want to play. He knows what players he wants to recruit and his experience as well, he knows what he wants at the club in terms of environment and culture. You will see the different tweaks and changes within the training ground, chefs coming in, the travel. I know it is off-field stuff but it is good stages of improvement.

"So, very impressed. I will say that as assistant but very impressed! The good thing he has got is that he is happy to delegate to the different people. We've got so many good support staff around he is happy to do that."

Forrest will also be on hand to help with any Spanish lessons if Naismith chooses to learn the language as part of his UEFA Pro Licence.

It helped Forrest in Vancouver when he worked with a number of players from Spanish-speaking countries and was beneficial in the initial stages with Kenneth Vargas.

"You had to learn one language and do a 16-week course," he said. "It was better out in Vancouver because you are using it. It was basic stuff like one-touch, two-touch, right, left, go forward, go back.

"Naisy will have to do this as well! At the end of the pro licence, you have an interview in the language. It's bits and pieces. It's part of coaching these days."

When asked to reflect on his coaching career, the journey, so far, you get a better understanding of the success he has been part of, certainly in Scotland. Two Championship titles, three European qualifications and numerous trips to Hampden Park.

"It has been a great four seasons for me," Forrest said of his time at Tynecastle so far. "We won the Championship and three times we've qualified for Europe, a couple of Scottish Cup finals, semi-finals.

"Looking back at that package for me personally as a coach it's been good to come back to Scotland. Won the Championship with Dundee United as well. Even over in MLS had good successes as well. All these experiences have been fantastic.

"Working over there a lot of the team were South Americans. I had two Costa Ricans in Vancouver, we had Argentinians, Uruguayans, Jamaicans. It was a great experience coaching over there because it is different being on the pitch, explaining things, how you talk. It's just different cultures. It has been a bit of a journey for me."

As long as there is an opportunity for Forrest to be on the training pitch it is a journey that is far from finished.