Neil has worked with his fellow Scot since being at Hamilton Academical, with Savage following him to Norwich and PNE.
On Monday, Savage was named as Hearts’ sporting director having left the Lilywhites last week.
He had the job of head of recruitment/chief scout at Deepdale, with his new role at Tynecastle having a wider remit.
Neil told the Lancashire Post: “Joe has got an opportunity to further his career.
“He was head of recruitment here but the job at Hearts is a director of football-type of thing in which he will be making key decisions at that club.
“Joe sees that as his next step. I think it’s a great club to go to, Hearts are a big club.
“I think it is a great move for Joe at a time when he wants to be more involved in making key decisions.
“We wish him well, the best of luck to him.”
Neil and Savage go back a long way, before Neil landed the Hamilton job. Said Neil: “When Billy Reid was manager at Hamilton, Joe started doing reports on the opposition for us.
“It grew arms and legs from there and when I became manager of Hamilton I got more involved, brought him in full-time.
“I took him to Norwich with me and then brought him up to Preston.
“Joe is an ambitions guy and he wanted to further himself in a role at a club.
“Hearts was an ideal opportunity for him.”
Savage will take up his job with Hearts on January 4.
North End allowed him to leave at the end of last week , that giving a cleaner break.
Hearts are currently top of the Scottish Championship, having dropped out of the Premiership last season.
Savage will find a familiar face at the Edinburgh club in the shape of Josh Ginnelly who is on a season’s loan from the Lilywhites,
Ginnelly returned to the Hearts side on Saturday after a six-week injury lay-off and scored in their 6-1 win against Queen of the South.
Whoever replaces Savage at PNE, will be given the title of chief scout rather than that of head of recruitment.
There has already been a lot of interest shown in the job since Savage’s departure was announced.
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