SOME 15 years after savouring the greatest moment of his football career at Hearts, Gilles Rousset is sickened by the current state of the club he loves.
The legendary goalkeeper of the 1998 Scottish Cup-winning side may be based almost a thousand miles away in Lyon, but the 49-year-old Frenchman remains as abreast as ever of the distressing events which have been playing out at Tynecastle over the past few years.
He said: “It’s very, very worrying because we don’t know what will happen to the club in the future. When you have people running clubs who do a lot of stupid things, then this is what can happen. We saw that with Rangers as well. Every day I am on the Evening News website to check what is going on and on the phone to [former player] Gary Mackay and [current manager] Gary Locke.
“Hearts is my favourite club. I really fell in love with the club, the city and the people. I still have a very strong relationship with the club. They are a massive club so I’m sure they will sort things out.”
In light of yesterday’s doomsday statement, Rousset knows Hearts are some way off a return to stability. However, he believes that in the short run, everyone who cares about the club needs to get behind the Foundation of Hearts.
The amiable big Frenchman is one of several ex-players to have already pledged to the Foundation and was planning to attend tonight’s Question and Answer session at Tynecastle until he learned his friends had organised a surprise stag do for him in Lyon ahead of his marriage to fiancée Valerie in Cannes next Saturday.
“I was due to come and I would have loved to have come to support the Foundation but I had to cancel because some of my mates organised a surprise stag night with all the boys for tonight,” he explained. “It’s unfortunate that I can’t come. It was a good surprise and a bad one as well because I had to cancel my trip to Edinburgh.
“I think the Foundation is the best way forward. The most important thing is that it is a group of people who love Hearts. I’m not sure Mr Romanov is loving Hearts. They know the club, they love the club and they will look after the money. That was not the case with Mr Romanov. We all fear for the club and want them to stay alive and I think the Foundation are the best people to make that happen.”
Rousset is enjoying life as reserve-team coach at Lyon, where he is involved in the nurturing of youngsters in an effort to help his club overcome financial difficulties of their own. “Apart from PSG and Monaco, every club in France has financial difficulties,” he said. “The situation in football is very difficult all over Europe, apart from in countries like England. Players and agents need to understand that things are changing.
“Unless you find millionaires to put money into clubs, there is no money. But what happens when the millionaires get fed up with football? Look at Romanov: he was full of promises and look where the club is now. You need to have people who care about the club running it. Football is crazy just now. You can’t spend money you don’t have. Ajax and Porto are two clubs who do it the right way and are doing well.
“They bring through good young players and sell them for a fortune and that is what we are trying to do at Lyon. Every team in Scotland must work much, much harder on developing youngsters. They need to have their best coaches at the academies.”
And with that he was off to prepare for his night on the tiles in Lyon. “I’m nearly 50 so it won’t be a crazy one,” he said. “Plus Lockey is not here.”