Goalkeeper Zdenek Zlamal hopes to emulate Hearts hero and compatriot Rudi Skacel by winning next month’s Scottish Cup final.
The Czech player knows all about Skacel’s standing at Hearts and was watching on television when the striker sealed his place in the supporters’ affections with a double in the 5-1 mauling of Hibernian in the 2012 final.
Zlamal, known as ‘Bobby’ by supporters, is bidding to be treated to some measure of this adulation by overcoming Celtic on 25 May. “If we win it we will be heroes but it will be hard to win the cup,” he said. “We will have to do it the hard way but it’s just a match. We will see. We will do our best and see what happens but Hearts fans deserve success.”
Zlamal, right, is aware what happens to those who deliver such success, with Skacel’s legendary status only having increased in the passing years. “I know he won it against Gretna in 2006 but the game I remember is when Hearts beat Hibs 5-1 in 2012,” recalled Zlamal following Saturday’s 3-0 semi-final win over Inverness. “Everyone remembers that game. It was on the Czech news. So I know it’s a massive competition for Hearts and we are very happy to be in the final. I watched the final and I heard all about the celebrations in Princes Street afterwards. I know everything about that final!
“I hope I can be part of a Hearts team that wins the Scottish Cup. I know Rudi a little bit,” he added. “But I know he still supports the club. Will he come and watch me in the final? I don’t know.”
Zlamal enjoyed earning some redemption on Saturday and made a game-defining save from Joe Chalmers’ free-kick just before the hour mark and with his side leading 1-0. The goalkeeper endured a horror moment at Murrayfield in the last four Betfred Cup clash with Celtic in October, allowing a Ryan Christie shot to slip under him for the second goal – James Forrest gleefully thumped the loose ball home – in the 3-0 defeat. He lost his place in the side for a spell after the 5-0 loss to Livingston in December but has since returned to the No 1 spot.
“It happens in football, sometimes you taste success and sometimes you don’t,” he said. “The mistake was not in my mind. It was a long time ago and
everyone makes mistakes. When we concede a goal it’s a mistake from the striker, midfielder, defender but when a goalkeeper makes a mistake everyone sees it.”
The 33-year-old is now looking forward to the biggest match of his career. He has tasted a cup final in the Czech Republic when playing for Sigma Olomouc against Sparta Prague and won 1-0. That’s my biggest game,” he added, “but the cup over here is bigger. I also won the cup with Sparta Prague too but I did not play.”