Christophe Berra was treated terribly by Daniel Stendel - what a heart-warming tale it would be if he is part of a Hearts Scottish Cup-winning team this weekend

Everyone loves a tale of redemption at Christmas. There was no room at the Tynecastle inn for Christophe Berra around this time last year, when the Hearts skipper was unceremoniously dropped from the team by then manager Daniel Stendel following a Boxing Day defeat to Hibs.

Christophe Berra in action for Hearts earlier this season against East Fife in the Betfred Cup (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)
Christophe Berra in action for Hearts earlier this season against East Fife in the Betfred Cup (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)

That was his prerogative. A manager coming in and making changes to a struggling side is not of course headline news. This was not the extent of it, however.

As club captain, Berra deserved to be treated with more respect than then being made to train with the reserves. Berra is too much of a decent professional to come out in the press and denounce this terrible treatment although he did concede he was “surprised” and that it had come “out of the blue”.

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He agreed to go out on loan to Dundee. Just as he had been at Tynecastle long before Stendel, he was probably confident about outlasting the unimpressive newcomer, which is how it turned out. In saying this, no-one could have predicted the circumstances. A pandemic curtailed the season and Hearts suffered relegation following a vote.

The recent BBC documentary on Hearts seemed to want to push a narrative that Stendel had been hard done by. The manager heard the news he was being replaced from a friend while spending lockdown in Germany. Berra could be excused for failing to shed any tears.

While they might not admit it now, many Hearts fans were on board with the defender’s defenestration. In some ways it resembles what is happening currently with Scott Brown. A skipper is perceived as having exceeded his sell-by-date by a large section of the support. It’s reached the point where the main debate in the countdown to tomorrow’s Christmas Cup final is whether Brown should even start.

It would be no surprise to see the 35-year-old leading Celtic out at Hampden – and continuing to do so for the rest of the season. And while Berra, who turns 36 in January, won’t be the one lifting the trophy, with Steven Naismith having inherited his armband, what a heart-warming story it would be if he is part of a Scottish Cup-winning team this weekend.

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