John Souttar: Former Scotland manager reveals heartbreaking reason Hearts man moved to Rangers rather than Sheffield United

Craig Levein, the former manager of Hearts, has revealed why the former Sheffield United target John Souttar chose to stay in his home country with Rangers rather than move to England.

John Souttar is pictured during a Hearts training session at the Oriam training facility, on January 17, 2022, in Edinburgh, Scotland.  (Photo by Mark Scates / SNS Group)
John Souttar is pictured during a Hearts training session at the Oriam training facility, on January 17, 2022, in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Mark Scates / SNS Group)

Souttar emerged as one of the Blades’ top transfer targets in this window after boss Paul Heckingbottom identified central defence as a priority position to strengthen his Bramall Lane squad.

The Scottish international even travelled to South Yorkshire to take a tour of United’s facilities, but eventually plumped to sign for Rangers on a pre-contract agreement.

The deal as it stands will go through in the summer, although there has been talk that Rangers will try and bring Souttar to Ibrox in this current window.

Alongside United, Blackburn Rovers and Middlesbrough were also linked with bringing Souttar to England.

And in an interview with the BBC, Levein said: “I feel a bit sorry for John. Very sadly, a family member of John's has a very serious illness and he doesn't want to leave Scotland at the moment.

"I've known this all along and contacted John to ask if it was okay to talk about it. So he's in a really tricky situation and won't go down to England for now, that's a definite.

“The only option on the table, other than staying at Hearts, is Rangers. I believe that's why, he wants to win trophies and be successful, but his primary concern is that he doesn't leave Scotland.

"I would say to any Hearts supporter who is thinking of just the club and not the person, if you had a chance to increase your salary five times and a situation where a family member is seriously ill and you want to spend time with them, then those things are fairly significant events.

"I completely understand his decision to try to secure his future for his family and also to stay in Scotland."

Levein had earlier described Souttar’s free-transfer move to Ibrox as “the steal of the century”.

“But I don’t think anyone can blame John for making this decision given everything he’s been through,” the former Scotland manager added.