MARIAN KELLO has spoken out to deny suggestions from Hearts that he is not committed to the club, insisting he is ready and willing to play when called upon.
He also dismissed any notion that he is angling for a summer move to Celtic, who visit Tynecastle on league business tonight.
The Slovakian goalkeeper held his own impromptu press conference at Riccarton yesterday and could now face internal disciplinary action for talking to the media without permission from Hearts. He said he wanted to have his own say after being frozen out of the Tynecastle first team despite his contract running until June.
“It is said in the papers that I am not committed to the club, and that, for me, is totally nonsense,” said Kello. “The club signed two young keepers [Jamie MacDonald and Mark Ridgers]. I have been told I don’t figure in the future for the club. I was not offered a new contract, which is the third thing.
“I want to play for Hearts. They said they don’t want me next season because of the money problem, and they want to work with youngsters. It looks like I don’t want to be here, but if I have the chance to play I will play 100 per cent because the club gave me the chance to be here and improve and gave me the chance to get into the [Slovakia] national team.”
Austria Vienna were prepared to pay ¤100,000 for Kello on transfer deadline day but he rejected the move. “After talking to my agents, we decided that a move to Austria was not at the moment the best for me. The contract was for only 18 months and it wasn’t that good. I want a contract for a longer period. I am 29 now. I need to look to the future. And obviously I want to help the club with money, but it was not that big a deal [offered by Austria Vienna] anyway. Obviously my agents are working on something because of the situation here.
“They [Hearts] asked me to go and they said, ‘If you don’t go then you might not play.’ That’s the point. It is not like I don’t want to be here. It’s not like I want to go to the Celtic, like it says in the papers. I would not go there because it looks like I would be prepared to sit on the bench in the Scottish league. And for me there is no point.
“It is very hard to read things like that because I have been here three and a half years and I have tried to be honest and tried to fight for the club. They just try and put me down all the time. I don’t know why. I always try my best for the club.”
Kello was asked if “they” referred to Vladimir Romanov, Hearts’ majority shareholder who ordered manager Paulo Sergio not to play Kello against St Johnstone on Sunday. He replied: “I can say the board. They are all together. I cannot specify one name. It’s the board who decided. There is no issue with the manager. Obviously I would like to play. I don’t know if I will play again or not.
“Sergejus [Fedotovas, Hearts director] told me on January 31 that I probably wouldn’t play. So when the manager said it, I said, ‘Well, I knew that.’ I didn’t train on Thursday and Friday [last week] because of something in my back. But it was not the issue because on Saturday I completed full training and I was ready for the game.”
Kello refuses to live in fear of internal recriminations for speaking his mind. “Look, I had to say something because I have seen the mess that is in the papers,” he continued. “I had to say something. I need to say how things are. That’s the point. They might do something to me – I don’t know – but I need to protect myself.”
He admitted sympathy for Sergio, but is exasperated by the lack of respect he feels Hearts are showing towards him. “He [Sergio] is trying to do his job. He wants results. He wants the best for the club as well. If he thinks I should be playing then why is someone else saying: ‘Don’t play him?’
“The point is the club should show me respect. If they want me then they should negotiate a new contract. Don’t force me out of here. It’s not like I don’t want to stay here.”