LARGS have snapped up an attacking midfielder who has been a league winner in New Zealand — and is a performance coach for Scottish Premiership stars.

Jack Haggerty was one of the star turns in Largs Thistle’s recent 5-0 friendly victory over Greenock Juniors.

It was his first match in a year after the New Zealand season ended last September, and didn’t resume due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

The Lochwinnoch-based player had initially intended to move to a club in Australia after a holiday in Melbourne but the pandemic put paid to that — and he instead set his sights on a return home.

The 24-year-old revealed Thistle defender Laurie McMaster recommended a move to Barrfields.

Despite the long lay-off, Haggerty is delighted with the impact he made against the Ravenscraig men and says he is settling in well at Thistle.

He said: “I came back to Scotland due to the Coronavirus issue — and I had heard a lot of positive things about Largs Thistle. I know Laurie McMaster well and he had alerted me to the opportunity at Largs.

“I play on the left-hand side of midfield and my main asset is chasing down defenders and supporting the frontline with crosses and assists.

“I usually score a handful of goals but I get more in the way of assists.

“Training has been very enjoyable so far and it has all been about short sharp possession and it was so good being back on the pitch for the 5-0 win over Greenock.

“It had been a long wait since last September — pre-season was supposed to start in February but due to the virus happening it didn’t happen.”

Signing at Thistle with a clutch of new players on board, including Keir Milliken and Cory Hughes, it is exciting times at Largs, and Haggerty is intent on making his mark for the Barrfields side.

He said: “Being based in Lochwinnoch, I am close to my one-to-one coaching, and Largs is only 20 minutes along the back road and that is why Largs is the perfect match for me.

“I was impressed with the manager Stuart Davidson — as soon as he first called me I could tell his professionalism right away. Although we were months away from returning to football he would drop me a text each week asking me how I was getting on and asking me how lockdown had been — I just felt he went the extra mile and I was delighted to sign for Largs, and can’t wait for the season to get underway.”

Haggerty played in midfield for Celtic youths for eight years before joining Airdrieonians — and featured in the side which beat Dunfermline in the last game of the Championship season in 2013 which put the Pars side down.

He then signed with Waterside Karori based in Wellington, New Zealand, after his stint with Airdrieonians, and said he really enjoyed life down under.

His spell in New Zealand also saw him developed his one-to-one coaching programme which has seen him work with Motherwell defender Ricki Lamie and Celtic defender Jack Hendry, who is currently on loan at KV Oostende in Belgium.

He said: “I loved life in New Zealand and had a very successful time at Wellington.

“The first season we got promoted, the second season we won the league and reached the play-off final, and in the third season we won the league and the play-off final.

“Wellington was an amazing place and absolutely beautiful — the people there were so welcoming.

“I had played with Airdrie for a few seasons and had been out injured for an extended period of time and I found it frustrating.

“I had a friend who had gone to play in New Zealand and kept in touch with him and upon returning to fitness I asked him if there were still opportunities — and grabbed it when it came along.

“The club would provide me with accommodation and food and in turn I worked within their football academy — as well as adapting my one to one training programme which came from New Zealand.

“It is basically a one hour training exercise with a football instead of going to a gym and using weights. I could be working with young boys, amateurs, professionals or even Scotland internationals.

Describing the one-to-one football performance coaching’, he said: “It is a football specific personal one-to-one training session and I have quite a few clients in the SPFL as well as boys who just want to lose weight or footballers wanting to work on their sharpness.

“It has been particularly useful for footballers who haven’t been able to play during lockdown.

“It is great to see the benefits it brings the players and seeing them progress.

“The likes of Jack Hendry scored a winner on loan at his club in Belgium as I had helped him on his rehab over eight to 12 weeks and he scored the winner in his first game back.

“Ricki Lamie is doing well at Motherwell, and Aidan Nesbitt is another at Greenock Morton.”