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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 January 2006, 09:40 GMT
McCann wraps up return to Hearts
Neil McCann will wear No.33 for Hearts this season
Neil McCann began his career at Tynecastle
Scotland winger Neil McCann says he turned down the chance to return to the Premiership to re-sign for Hearts after being released by Southampton.

Hearts beat off interest from Wigan and Blackburn to secure the 31-year-old on a two-and-a-half year deal.

"I won't say I wasn't tempted to give it one more try in the top division in England," said McCann.

"But the attraction of Tynecastle and the relationship I felt with the club was too big a factor to turn down."

McCann, capped 26 times, left the Edinburgh club in December 1998, when he joined Rangers for 2m.

He then moved to Southampton for 1.5m in August 2003.
He has turned down an absolute fortune
Hearts head coach Graham Rix

But he played fewer than 50 games there and recently agreed a release from his contract at St Mary's, where "it never quite happened for me at Southampton for a variety of reasons".

"There was some interest from the Premiership and a couple of clubs made attractive offers that would probably have meant more money," said McCann.

"But I always hoped I might get the chance to come back and play here again one day and I think I said as much when I left.

"I always felt I had a good relationship with the people within the club and with the supporters.

"I'm hopeful it will be the same again and I'll be able to prove to everyone again how much the club means to me."

McCann was hopeful that his return to Tynecastle would also help his chances of winning a more regular place with Scotland.

Hearts head coach Graham Rix, who had already recruited the services of Lee Johnson and Nerijus Barasa since the opening of the January transfer window, moved for the winger as soon as he heard of his availability.

Rix said: "I am absolutely over the moon and hope it gives the supporters a real boost.

"He is so keen to join us he has turned down an absolute fortune because he wants to come here and play for us."

Rix believes that McCann can resurrect his career at Tynecastle and help Hearts catch Celtic in the race for the Scottish Premier League title.

"I knew it was not happening for him down there and I thought he would do us a great turn," said the head coach.

"We were always his number one target, which is fantastic, because, as I've said, I want players playing for me who want to play for Hearts."

BBC Sport understands that Hearts are not interested in Colin Cameron, the 33-year-old former Tynecastle midfielder who has been told he can leave Wolverhampton Wanderers.




WATCH AND LISTEN
News conference: Neil McCann


News conference: Graham Rix



SEE ALSO
Dunfermline fail to lure McCann
12 Jan 06 |  Dunfermline Athletic
Winger McCann departs St Mary's
09 Jan 06 |  Southampton


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