Rudi Skacel hopes he can be Hearts’ lucky charm
The Czech midfielder, who won the Scottish Cup with the Tynecastle club in 2006 and 2012 when he scored in both finals, is back in Edinburgh this weekend and is looking forward to the fourth-round tie against Celtic. He has his own special memories of games against the Glasgow club, having scored in his team’s semi-final win over them two seasons ago, and although the Hearts squad is radically different from the one in which he played then, he believes they can rise to the occasion as they did in the two games against Hibernian he watched on TV.
“I’m going to the game on Sunday and looking forward to it – it’s a big, special game,” Skacel said yesterday on a promotional visit to a branch of bookmakers William Hill, sponsors of the cup. “There will be Celtic supporters enjoying their first round in the Scottish Cup this season and I expect a great atmosphere like all the time at Tynecastle. I have happy memories of the Scottish Cup and games against Celtic and hopefully it is another good day for Hearts and they can go into the next round. Hopefully Celtic are tired after the match against AC Milan and Hearts can take advantage.
“I have seen the two derbies on Czech TV. Those results prove that Hearts can beat anyone, and all the pressure is on Celtic. It’s a big opportunity for the players – I say it is 50/50.
“There is definitely pressure on Celtic – they are favourites. They are out of Europe and have to win the league and all trophies now. They are experienced so will need to deal with that challenge.”
Skacel returned to the Czech Republic at the start of this year after a brief spell at Dundee United and played for Slavia Prague until the end of last season. Currently without a club, he has consistently been linked with a return to Hearts, but said the time was not right to talk about his future.
“I finished last season with Slavia Prague, so I’ve been without a club for the last couple of months. I’ve come over with my friends to watch the game and hopefully help the Foundation [of Hearts] and promote the club.
“Looking forward, we will see. Hopefully everything will be fine for me and for the football club. I will speak about my future when I know what I want to do and sign for a club – now is too early.”