It’s not often a manager wins promotion with his boyhood club, guides them to European qualification, and then jumps ship to a club in League One, writes Jon Boyle.
But then new MK Dons manager Robbie Neilson has always had a great eye for spotting potential – and he has found it in abundance in Milton Keynes.
The 36-year-old steered Hearts to the Scottish Championship title in his first season and a third-placed finish in the top flight last term before making the move to MK1 in December, replacing long-serving Dons boss Karl Robinson.
And when Celebrate:MK caught up with Robbie at Stadium:MK it was clear that the Scotsman has quickly settled into life south of the border – and he has big plans for the club.
“It’s been great so far,” said Robbie. “I’ve been delighted with the players’ application since I came in, it’s been hard work but they have been hell-for-leather right through.
“I really like Milton Keynes as a place as well. When I get time to wander about the atmosphere in the city is great.
“I was up at the shopping centre over Christmas and it’s huge. But I don’t want to say too many good things about that because I want people to come down to Stadium:MK on a Saturday to make this place full! That’s the aim.
“There’s huge potential here because of the size of the city, so we just need to get more people in and fill it.”
Robbie is planning to relocate his wife and three children to MK in the summer, but he admitted the local public are already making him feel right at home.
“The response I’ve had so far from the Milton Keynes public has been really good,” he said.
“There’s a lot of Scottish people down here. Everyone I bump into seems to be Scottish and they come and talk to me, so it’s been nice. It’s like a home from home.
“I’ll feel even more at home in the summer. I’ve got three girls so we’ll let them finish school then bring them down.
“We’ll hopefully get them into school here then it gets us settled as a family.”
Robbie is no stranger to living in England after spells at Leicester and Brentford in his playing days.
And he has discovered there are many more perks to life in Milton Keynes than just the warmer climate.
“The weather is better down here, that’s for sure,” he said. “This is T-shirt weather now for Scotland!
“It’s a wee bit of a different culture too. We don’t really have villages in Scotland, we have big city centres and other than that it’s just housing developments.
“Down here there’s loads of villages and nice wee restaurants and pubs so you can relax in these areas.
“So that side is different because you don’t feel like you’re under the microscope.
“The focus on you in Scotland is 24 hours a day but it’s a bit more relaxed here, which is good because you can focus on your work.
“Nobody shouts at you down here. Well, not yet anyway!”