David Vanecek has outlined his ambitions with Hearts, describing himself as a “warrior” who wants to win silverware and become Scotland’s top goalscorer.
The Czech striker is aiming high after completing a pre-contract move to Tynecastle Park. He is eager to put his physical style to test in the Ladbrokes Premiership and believes he will be a success.
Vanecek’s contract at FK Teplice expired on 31 December and he is now in Spain at the Edinburgh club’s winter training base. He is expected to make a competitive debut against Livingston in the Scottish Cup fourth round a week on Sunday.
However, the 27-year-old set out his hopes and aims as he explained to the Hearts support what they can expect over the weeks and months ahead.
“I want to score the most goals in the Scottish league, and help Hearts win a trophy as well,” he stated. “I am a warrior, a fighter. I am not a fast striker, my style is more physical, I am more of a target man.
“That’s why I wanted to come here. Ever since I was a boy my dream has been to play in British football. Now it’s happened I am very happy. I think my style will be very successful here.”
Vanecek, who could play some part in Hearts’ friendly against the Belgian club Lokeren in Spain tomorrow, signed a pre-contract agreement with Hearts in July and had hoped a quick-fire transfer would then materialise. Tynecastle officials pushed hard during the final days of the window but Teplice resisted, desperate to keep hold of their prize asset until his contract expired at the end of last month.
“It has taken a long, long time for me to get here,” said the striker. “I stayed focused and tried to do my best for my club throughout the autumn. Now I am ready to show just why Hearts were so keen to bring me here.
“It was very close. I thought something was going to happen before the deadline in August. My bags were packed, everything was ready to go from my side, I was prepared. Then Teplice told me they wanted me to finish my contract there and help the team. I was very disappointed because when I signed my contract I really wanted to come to Hearts straight away.
“It was tough to go back to Teplice and concentrate on playing there once more. I had to be professional but it was difficult knowing I had half a season to wait before I could get started. My mind was always on Hearts.”
He made a decent job of fulfilling his duties to Teplice despite the hankering to get to Edinburgh. Vanecek scored seven goals in 16 appearances during the first half of the season in his homeland, whilst also managing to keep fully informed on all matters in Gorgie.
If smoke had started seeping from his home wifi router due to overuse, it would be perfectly understandable. “I tried to watch every Hearts game. The stand-out one for me was the win over Celtic,” he said.
“That was another reason I was so excited to come here, the atmosphere inside the ground that day. Tynecastle is magic. The Scottish league has lots of contact and fighting, it’s a very aggressive league. The Czech league isn’t like that, it’s a lot more tactical, we play more football.”
His own robust style seems, on paper, to be suited to the British football stereotype. Mere thoughts of Vanecek and Steven Naismith pairing up in attack for Hearts during the second half of the campaign will have supporters giddy with excitement.
Vanecek’s power leading the line would be well complemented by Naismith’s guile and link-up play. Steven MacLean’s intelligence and movement is another option for manager Craig Levein, pictured. The imposing Uche Ikpeazu, once fully recovered from foot surgery, could also partner Vanecek should Levein decide he wants to completely overpower an opposition defence.
“I want to do my best here. I can already feel the support of the fans because they message me on Instagram,” said Vanecek. His social media activities have already attracted a cult following. “I try to communicate with them as much as I can and reply to them. I am happy the fans are like this. They have been very polite and respectful.”
The expectations on his shoulders are huge, not least because of the elongated build-up to his arrival. The long wait is over but knowing he was coming months in advance pushed Hearts fans’ sense of anticipation to fever pitch. Thankfully, the new recruit feels able to take it all in his stride.
“I don’t feel under pressure because of this, I just want to be successful for them to pay back the support they have given me so far,” he explained.
“I need to train now. I was sick two weeks ago and had to take antibiotics and it was hard for me. So I need to train more to get back to where I need to be. I don’t feel physically strong yet.”