David Vanecek has lifted the lid on his unhappy spell at Hearts, the Czech striker admitting he’s still mystified as to why things went so horribly wrong for him at Tynecastle.
Vanecek’s arrival in Gorgie this time last year was much hyped in the months preceding his move from FK Teplice, the hope being he’d repeat in a maroon jersey the free-scoring form he’d previously shown.
But in only his second appearance he was substituted long before half-time in a 2-1 defeat at home to Dundee by Craig Levein, the manager describing his performance as “rubbish” and later saying the player had apologised for his lack of
As such his Hearts career was over almost before it had begun, Vanecek playing just seven games for the club – three of them as a substitute – before departing last summer “by mutual consent” without scoring a single goal.
Now turning out for Hungarian side Puskas Akademia and enjoying a winter training camp alongside Hibs and a host of other clubs from throughout Europe on the Costa del Sol, the 28-year-old spoke of how his dream move turned so sour so quickly.
He said: “I don’t know why things went so wrong. I couldn’t wait to move to Hearts.
“I played my first match and I played 90 minutes in the Scottish Cup. It was very good. I had an assist and we won 1-0 against Livingston and I was happy. A few days later I was in the starting eleven in the league. And the coach then took me off after 35 minutes.
“From this minute it was a problem for me in Scotland. I don’t know why this happened. No-one told me why, which was a problem because I didn’t play so badly
“But maybe the coach thought he had to change something. Then after this match a lot of the fans hated the manager
because what he did wasn’t fair to me.
“Maybe this moment meant there was a problem between me and the coach. But we didn’t speak, so I don’t know.”
Despite the claims at the time that Vanecek had made the most of the Czech league stopping for its winter break in November prior to his moving to Scotland, the player insisted his fitness was not in question.
“Before I went to Hearts I was on penicillin for two weeks. I started training in Spain and after I played two matches. My fitness was good, I had no problem with my fitness.”
Naturally, however, Vanecek found life difficult although, he insisted, he liked Edinburgh while describing Hearts fans as “beautiful, maybe the best fans in the world for me,” revealing many had sent him messages on social media and “they were all positive”.
He said: “It was my first move to another country. I had to start to learn English because I didn’t speak it before I arrived. I wasn’t playing and in my head this made it a very difficult half year.
“I will never forget Edinburgh because my daughter was born there But it was difficult for me and my family. We lived in an amazing city, life was good, but the football side was very
Although he still had a year on his contract remaining, Vanecek realised that for the good of his career he had to leave, disclosing he turned down an approach from Motherwell before moving to Hungary.
He said: “I wanted to leave because it was half a year without matches and only training every day. Only training. Hard training and hard work but then at the weekend I don’t play.
“It was really difficult for my head and I wanted to move because the manager was still there. I had to continue my career because I was only 27 and it’s a problem if I have a year without football.
“So I called my manager and told him I could go to another country with another team. The manager from Motherwell called but for me it wasn’t good money and that was a problem and was why I left Scotland.
“It was a good experience because it was my first move to another country and now I get to continue in Hungary with Puskas.
“I’m very happy for my experience in Scotland but I’m glad my career is continuing.”
Vanecek continues to monitor what is happening at Tynecastle by keeping in touch with countryman Zdenek Zlamal and is aware through the Hearts goalkeeper of the changes that have been made at the club over the course of the past few months.
Expressing his surprise that Hearts are currently bottom of the Premiership, he said: “I call Zdenek Zlamal maybe every week and he’s very angry because there is a strong team.
“I don’t know what has happened because I think only Celtic, Rangers and maybe Aberdeen are better than Hearts. Hearts must play for fourth place at least.
“I’m sad because I like Edinburgh, I like Hearts and the Hearts fans. I believe they’ll move up and maybe next year play for the first four or five places.”
And on the news Levein had been replaced by new boss Daniel Stendel, he said: “Zdenek called me and was very happy because the change was important.
“Every match they were losing but now there’s a new manager and new rules in the team. I believe Hearts will improve.”