Mulling over the prospect of playing against Celtic with Hearts - perhaps even in a Scottish Cup final - elicited from Craig Gordon some diplomacy rarely seen in Scottish football these days.

However, the goalkeeper allowed his guard to slip yesterday when considering the ‘injustice’ he insists will spur the Tynecastle side on next season and the ‘anger’ he fears could take years to subside.

In the end, the pull of an emotional return to his first club, and his boyhood heroes, was too strong for Gordon to resist. Left to feel unwanted at Celtic, the 37-year-old harbours no grudges over his exit from Parkhead with a historic 10-in-a-row a possibility. But he believes he is joining a club where the sense of grievance will remain strong for some time.

The legal arguments have still to play out, but Gordon is convinced the Gorgie club are right to challenge the decision made by rivals to relegate them from the Premiership with eight games still left to play. The row may soon be conluded in the courts but the Scotland internationalist reckons the bitterness will take longer to subside.

“I think everybody in the sporting world has a great deal of sympathy for Hearts,” said Gordon, who backed chief executive Ann Budge and her stewardship of the club. “It’s a difficult thing the club is having to deal with at the moment. It’s a feeling of injustice for the fans and the players.

“As a player, you can only feel sorry for the guys who didn’t get the chance to put things right on the pitch. They still had eight games to go and yet they had that chance taken away from them. From a sporting point of view, as a fellow player, I think that’s pretty hard to take.

“They’ll be hurting from not getting that opportunity, as will the fans who were also denied that opportunity to see out the season and get behind the club and the team, to achieve the results that would have got them out of trouble.

“There are a lot of things which are going to make Hearts fans, players and everyone else associated with the club very angry, and quite rightly so. I think if any club or any player was in that same situation then they’d feel the same way.

“There are a whole host of things that were involved in making the decision [to return to Hearts] but, yes, it was something that came into my mind. This has happened and who knows what may happen in the coming weeks? There is obviously still a lot of discussion to be had in that area, so I don’t want to say too much about it. But, yeah, for me to come back and help fight for Hearts to get back to where they want to be is something I wanted to do.

“The motivation from last season will be to go and have a good season and prove everybody wrong. There is going to be quite a big fall-out from this.

“It’s going to last for quite some time, maybe even years, in terms of rivalries and people feeling wronged by other clubs. That’s going to last because of how everything worked out and the injustice felt by a number of teams.

“There is going to be that added little spice to things because of that and Hearts are going to have the greatest burden of that after being put in a position where they feel unjustly relegated. Now, we are going to get together as a group of players and I can’t wait to get into that dressing room and see everybody and help to try and pull things together and move forward.”

Gordon moving forward sees him leaving behind Celtic after six years and almost 250 games. His outings last season were restricted to just six, however, after Neil Lennon brought back Fraser Forster and discussions over a new contract reflected that bit-part role in the Hoops squad.

“I’m pleased to be back,” he added of his move to Hearts. “Twenty years after arriving here the first time I’m back again and it feels good. I wanted to come back and I’m ready to go again.

“There was a lot for me to consider. At Celtic, there’s a huge season coming up so that was something I had to take into consideration. But, on the Hearts side of things, there’s a lot happening. I just saw a lot of positives about coming into that and rejoining the club. It really feels like the beginning of a project and it’s something I want to be part of.

“Things just petered out over the last few weeks [at Celtic]. The one thing I always wanted to do was get back playing football. The money side was always going to be secondary. It was about doing what was right for me.

“I didn't feel I was a big priority there at this particular moment in time, and that's absolutely fine. That's what happened last season when they wanted to keep Fraser [Forster] on. That's football.”

Football is also littered with players returning to haunt old clubs and, although they will be in different divisions next season, a Scottish Cup final encounter with Celtic is a firm possibility. Gordon is not cup-tied and, if Hearts can see off Hibs when the semi-finals are finally played, he admits he would relish taking on his former team-mates with silverware at stake.

“I’d feel great about it and I’d want to win the game,” he went on. “Absolutely no problem whatsoever. I’d be doing everything I could to win the game for Hearts and to be successful for our team here.

“Everybody seems to worry about playing against ex-teams. I tried everything I possibly could when I was at Celtic to beat Hearts in those games and I would do exactly the same against Celtic now.

“I think people will look too much into that and say ‘the player’s not being respectful’ but you have to go out and try and win the game. I’ve always done the best that I possibly could in every single game to make sure that my team wins.

“There’d be absolutely no problem playing against them and trying to beat them. I’m sure their fans won’t be happy about that but that’s just football.”