John Robertson has joined Hearts as head coach on a contract that will keep him at the Edinburgh club until 2007 after leaving Inverness Caley Thistle.
And he told BBC Sport: "To come back to a place where I spent 18 years as a player and had some tremendous memories is absolutely fantastic.
"It was a terrible wrench to leave such a well-run club as Caley Thistle.
"But the pull of coming back here, work with these players and hopefully improve myself was just too great."
Robertson arrived at Hearts' training ground on Wednesday morning before being unveiled at an afternoon media conference.
Inverness had rejected two approaches before being satisfied that they were being properly compensated for the loss of a manager who led them to promotion and two cup semi-finals last season.
The record-breaking goalscorer takes over from former team-mate Levein, who moved to Leicester City on Friday and immediately recommended Robertson for the job.
1982: The supporter of Edinburgh rivals Hibernian makes his Hearts debut against Queen of the South
1988: Moves to Newcastle United in April for £700,000 but returns to Tynecastle in November
1990: Earns the first of 16 Scotland caps, scoring against Romania
1998: Leaves after being an unused substitute as Hearts defeated Rangers 2-1 in the Scottish Cup final
1998: Joins Second Division Livingston as player-coach
2000: Retires from playing but continues as coach at Livi
2002: Joins Inverness Caley Thistle as manager
2003: Caley Thistle beat Airdrie Utd in the Bell's Cup final
2004: Leads Inverness to their first Division One title
Robertson paid tribute to the work of Levein and previous manager Jim Jefferies and hoped that he could build on Hearts' position as the third force in Scottish football behind Celtic and Rangers.
"There are going to be huge expectations among the fans and media and it is not going to be easy, but you have to learn to shoulder such massive pressures," said the scorer of 215 league goals for Hearts.
Robertson expects to be joined at Tynecastle by Donald Park, despite Caley Thistle's attempts to promote his assistant to the vacant manager's chair.
Hearts had been keen to install Robertson as Levein's successor before Thursday's Uefa Cup tie against Schalke 04.
But Park will remain at Caledonian Stadium until after Saturday's league meeting with Dunfermline Athletic but is not under contract and could leave immediately after the visit to East End Park.
Robertson insists that he will have no problems working with proposed director of football Anatoly Byshovets, the former USSR coach.
"He will be coming in as director of football to help and assist in the recruiting of players," said Robertson.
"But I've been told there are no doubts that the players coming in or out and the selection of the team will be my duties, similar to what Craig Levein's were.
"I've already worked with a director of football at Inverness - Graeme Bennett - and he was fantastic for me.
"When you look at the pedigree of Mr Byshovets then you'll see I can't help but learn from him and I'm really looking forward to it."
Robertson cut his coaching teeth at Livingston before moving to Caledonian Stadium, guiding Inverness into the Scottish Premier League for the first time in their history.
Meanwhile, Peter Houston, the assistant manager at Tynecastle, has now joined Levein at Leicester.