New Bairn Higgins is re-united with old mentor Alex Smith

PIC: Gary Hutchison, 5th September 2012, Stirling training centre, new Falkirk signing Sean Higgins.

PIC: Gary Hutchison, 5th September 2012, Stirling training centre, new Falkirk signing Sean Higgins.

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Falkirk new-boy Sean Higgins has linked up again with the man who gave him his first professional football contract.

Technical director Alex Smith was in charge at Ross County when Higgins broke into his first team a decade ago.

As a youngster from the central belt living in the Highlands, Higgins admits Smith played a key role in his formative pro-football years.

“He looked out for me. I was living myself in Inverness and he ended up being a father-type figure up there.

“I speak to him quite often and if I bump into him we can be chatting away for half an hour. He’s an experienced man and has done a lot in the game, and he’s a great benefit to the younger guys here.

“I grew myself once he left, but he gave me a great start to my career as a mentor at the start of my career. The young guys here are as lucky as I was to have him.”

But Higgins has noticed a change since the last time he worked with Smith.

“He’s mellowed a bit... well, day to day, but at half-time on Sunday after losing a cheap goal I got a reminder of the Alex Smith I used to know at Ross County. He wasn’t best pleased - none of us were.”

Higgins’ career has changed a lot in just a month and a half. In July he was competing the Europa League, starring in both legs of St. Johnstone’s qualifying tie with Turkish side Eskisehirspor. But he’ll be competing in the First Division for the rest of the season.

“I broke my metatarsal after three minutes with Ayr in January but I came back flying and the season got off to a good start.

“Steve Lomas seemed to rate me but was bringing in other players and my opportunities didn’t really arise. There was a chance for me to come here on loan, but I didn’t see the point when my contract lasted the same amount of time so cut my ties and joined Falkirk fully. It was the right decision.

“At 27 I need to play every week. I know the role the gaffer wants me to play and I like it - getting on the ball and, hopefully, getting goals.

“There’s a lot happening here, it’s a great club and a great set-up. I’m looking forward to playing.”