Rudi Skacel, Hearts legend, to bring curtain down on career this weekend

Rudi Skacel celebrates after scoring against Hibs in the 2012 Scottish Cup final
Rudi Skacel celebrates after scoring against Hibs in the 2012 Scottish Cup final
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Former Hearts fans' favourite Rudi Skacel will hang up his boots this weekend, bringing the curtain down on a 20-year career.





The 39-year-old will line up for FK Pribram in their relegation play-off second leg match against Zbrojovka Brno on Sunday, with the scoreline tied at 3-3 from the first leg.

Skacel lifts the Scottish Cup at Hampden

Skacel lifts the Scottish Cup at Hampden

Former Czech Republic international Skacel joined Pribram in 2017, and has scored five goals in 43 matches for the Bohemian outfit. He won promotion to the top flight in his first season and will now look to help the club prolong their stay in the Czech First League.

Described as a top professional both on the pitch and in the dressing room, Skacel told Pribram's website: "This is my last season. I'd hate to take up space.

"I've had a long career, and it's got to end somewhere. I'll miss being part of the dressing room. But life doesn't end there."

Asked how it felt to be playing alongside footballers who were up to 20 years younger than him, Skacel added: "My role in the team is different to what it was ten years ago, but the youngsters in the dressing room have prolonged my youth."

Skacel began his career with hometown side FK Trutnov, before joining Hradec Kralove in 1992, making his senior bow in 1999.

His performances for Hradec Kralove and a second-tier title in 2000/01 earned him a move to Slavia Prague and after one season - and a Czech Cup win in 2001/02, he was snapped up by Marseille in 2003. Skacel played 24 times for the French giants, scoring once, and was loaned out to Panathinaikos in Greece before a season-long stint with Hearts during the 2005/06 campaign. He scored in the final as the Jambos defeated Gretna on penalties to win the Scottish Cup final in 2006.

A total of 17 goals in 40 appearances saw him land a move to Southampton in the English Championship, and he spent three seasons with the Saints, with a six-month loan at Hertha Berlin in the Bundesliga during the 2007/08 season.

He had a brief stint back in his homeland with Slavia Prague and a short spell at Larissa in Greece, before returning to Hearts for two seasons, scoring a double as he helped the Jambos to an historic 5-1 Scottish Cup final win over Capital rivals Hibs in 2012.

Skacel had a 16-game spell with Dundee United after leaving Hearts, followed by a brief, third spell with Slavia Prague. He moved onto Mlada Boleslav before returning to Scotland with Raith Rovers in 2016 ahead of his return to the Czech Republic with Pribram.

He was capped nine times for his country at Under-21 level, winning the 2002 UEFA European Under-21 Football Championship alongside future Hearts team-mate Michal Pospisil, and won seven caps at senior level and was part of the Czech Republic's Euro 2008 squad, albeit as an unused substitute.