Christophe Berra explains why Scottish Cup final can define Hearts players' careers

Christophe Berra has urged Hearts players to seize their Scottish Cup final opportunity against Celtic and ensure it becomes a career-defining moment.

Hearts defender Christophe Berra intends to savour another Scottish Cup final.
Hearts defender Christophe Berra intends to savour another Scottish Cup final.

The Edinburgh club are firm underdogs for Sunday’s showpiece at Hampden Park but Berra pointed out that cup finals don’t come along often for most players.

He wants his Tynecastle colleagues to savour the chance of a major upset as a Championship side against Premiership opponents.

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Now 35, Berra’s only cup final appearance ended in defeat with Hearts against Celtic in the 2019 Scottish Cup. He was an unused substitute in the 2006 final against Gretna during his first spell with the club and still collected a winner’s medal.

He is expected to start against Celtic having regained full fitness after a pre-season injury. His time in football includes spells in Scotland’s top flight and the English Premier League, and he explained why a cup final can be definitive.

“If you look back in ten or 20 years you’ll either have a winner’s medal or a loser’s medal,” said Berra. “I’ve got one winner’s medal and one loser’s medal. You look back at the one I won and I didn’t start that game. It would mean more if you start and win it.

“I've won one, I've got beat in one and this is my third one. I won the league with Wolves so any winners medal is really special. I’ve been lucky enough to play in cup finals in the past, but some boys haven't so it'll be special for them.

“You actually take these things for granted. Not many people get to play in cup finals no matter what league you’re in. Usually there's a team that will dominate.

“Sunday is a big opportunity for us. It’s disappointing that the fans or even family members can't be there, but they'll all be watching on the television.”

Berra appreciates such occasions even more as he enters the twilight of his career. “I'm not daft – I know I'm getting older,” he added. “I'm 36 in January but if you ask the manager or anyone, I'm still training and the fitness tests show I'm still fit.

“There will come a time when I'm not performing to standard but you can't just say, 'he had a bad game because he's getting old'. I had bad games when I was 18 and when I was 24. It happens.

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“If a 20-year-old has a bad game, it's not because he's getting old. It’s 'aw, he's inexperienced'. It's not any different. I can't go forever, that's life, but I've always looked after myself.”

Confidence at Hearts is considerably better now than it would have been back in May when the final was originally due to take place. Berra feels that will help his side.

“I think so. Winning breeds confidence and there's a different feel around the place,” he explained. “Don't get me wrong, it’s a different league but every game is difficult.

“We know playing Celtic is a big step up in quality. Yes, they've been struggling but we're no fools. They've got quality players there and can turn it on when they want to. They're going for the quadruple treble so have a lot at stake as well, but also a lot of pressure.”

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