Hearts manager Craig Levein has recently spoke about how close he holds former employer Dundee United to his heart and his relationship with their boss Robbie Neilson.

The Jambos take on United in the Betfred Cup on July 12. It will see Neilson take on his former side Hearts and Levein will come up against his ex-employers United.

Neilson was both a Jambos player and manager. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

Levein has heaped praise on United and how the club operates. He spent three years there as manager, which led to him being appointed Scotland boss.

He told NTOF: “Dundee United are a big team. They’ve had an injection of cash recently with new owners. I hope they do manage to get promoted and see themselves playing in the Premiership next season. I’m sure Robbie is the right man to do that.

“They are real football people, they are very passionate about the club. I loved my time there.

Levein got his Scotland chance because of his work with United. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

“I always woke up with a smile on my face ready to go to work. It was a really good period in my football career. I’ve got very fond memories of my time there.”

Levein and his relationship with United boss Neilson

Neilson and Levein worked with each other at Hearts. Whilst the current Dundee United boss was the manager of the Tynecastle club, Levein was the mentor-like Director of Football.

They both know each other very well. The current Jambos boss believes Neilson is a top coach and that United have a good manager to lead them out the Championship. He also commented on one of Neilson’s recent signings, Lawrence Shankland.

Shankland recently joined the Tannadice club. (photo by David Young/Action Plus via Getty Images)

Levein said: “We’re still in contact. We don’t speak every day or every week, but we still speak occasionally.

“I think they (United) have the right man for the job, I really do. He’s got the recent history of taking us out the Championship and into the Premiership. I’m very hopeful that he can do the same again with United.

“I watched him (Shankland) a few times. He had a great start to the season but then got an injury and never quite managed to finish it off. He still scored a hell of a lot of goals. I believe there was pretty strong competition to get him.

Shankland’s a goal machine at Championship level. (photo by David Young/Action Plus via Getty Images)

“United have done well getting him to sign for them. He’s another one who’s got a proven record in the Championship of scoring goals. It makes sense to sign someone has done it before and we’ll need to be wary of that.”

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