Hearts goalkeeper Zdenek Zlamal has expressed his gratitude to St Mirren for giving him the chance to play Scottish Premiership football again.
The Czech stopper was a shock loan signing by the Paisley club after they had three goalkeepers ruled out for a week due to Covid-19 safety protocols after Jak Alnwick and Dean Lyness tested positive for the illness.
He came right into the team hours after signing on a short-term, emergency deal for the 3-0 defeat to Hibs. Though he made an error for Hibs’ third, he would prove his credentials with solid performances in the losses against Celtic and Dundee United, including saving an Odsonne Edouard penalty.
Hearts fans were largely furious with the decision to help out a club who had voted them down in their hour of need – not to mention the same team whose 1-0 defeat of Daniel Stendel’s side in March ultimately sealed their fate – but manager Robbie Neilson insisted it was a decision that would benefit the Tynecastle club.
And Zlamal was always going to jump at the opportunity to get some competitive playing time before Hearts’ season gets underway next month.
He told Express Sport: “It’s definitely been a strange time for everyone. I was delighted to be part of St Mirren just for one week. Now I can go back to Hearts.
“My own manager called me and said that I can go to St Mirren and play tomorrow and I was like ‘wow’. I wasn’t sure if I understood him properly!
“I was shocked because I’d played a friendly game on the Friday and then was going to play a Premiership game the next day.
“The first game was very strange. I turned up to the stadium in my jeans and was put straight into play.
“But, after that, I was training and speaking with the gaffer, the lads and the goalkeeping coach, who are all really nice.
“In the end, I was delighted as it was a good opportunity for me to be back in the Premiership. It was an easy decision. I appreciate that St Mirren gave me the chance.”