On the surface they were rivals as well as team-mates during their brief time together at Dundee United.
However, Tangerines legend Sean Dillon insists his reaction to Robbie Neilson’s arrival as a player back in 2011 was exactly the same as the one to the news he’s the new Tannadice boss – delight.
When then-gaffer Peter Houston fixed up Neilson on a short-term contract, on the surface it appeared he’d be vying with Dillon for the right-back berth.
As it turned out, more often than not they played together with him at the centre of the defence and Neilson out on the right.
For the Irishman, though, the big issue was it was a signing that added strength to the squad.
Likewise, he believes the 38-year-old’s return as manager represents an excellent piece of business by chairman Mike Martin.
“I have to say I’m delighted to see Robbie get the job,” said “Dillo”.
“Don’t get me wrong, I had nothing against any of the other candidates who were being mentioned in connection with the job but I just felt Robbie was the stand-out.
“What he did when he got Hearts back up a few seasons ago was a remarkable achievement.
“They ran away with a league that had Rangers and Hibs in it and when they themselves were not in the best position and had to rely on a lot of their younger players.
“That kind of thing is impossible to ignore and, for me, it made him the best choice for United and that’s all that matters to me, even the fact he’s a fella I really like doesn’t enter into it.”
If Dillon needed any more convincing over the Neilson credentials, he gets it from the knowledge who it was that put him in charge of the first team during that spell at Tynecastle.
It was, of course, his former boss at United, Craig Levein. And if the current Jambos manager rated Neilson as a manager, that’s good enough for him.
“As he showed when he was in charge at United and is doing again back at Hearts, whether it’s players or coaches, Craig doesn’t make many bad signings or appointments.
“He saw something in Robbie and gave him his chance and he did a great job for him.”
And from their seven months together in the dressing-room at Tannadice back in the 2011/12 campaign, Dillon is not surprised that his old team-mate has gone into management.
“As a player, Robbie added quality to our squad and from day one it was also clear he was an excellent professional.
“He played well for us and worked hard in training. I actually knew a few of the lads who played under him at Hearts and the feedback I got from then was he was the same as a manager.
“As well as doing the things you would expect of a manager, he is one who puts in a lot of extra unseen hours and I’m told he is meticulous in his preparations.
“He’ll bring that to United and also a knowledge of the league he’s working in – that has to be a big plus.
“On a personal level I repeat he’s also a very nice fella and if the players listen to him I think they’ll enjoy working under him.”
While, as always, Dillon is keeping his eye on events at Tannadice, he’s also working hard to help current employers Montrose recover from a difficult start to League One.
The Links Parkers have found life tough and are bottom of the table but he believes results can improve.
“It hasn’t been easy but it was never going to be, we always knew that. As hard as it is right now, I’m still enjoying my time with Montrose and they’re a great club to be at.”
On top of that, his work heading up the Skilz Academy coaching school is also keeping him busy.