EDGAR Jankauskas, who has a Champions League winner's medal from his time with Porto, became the latest to sign up for the Lithuanian revolution at Tynecastle when he joined Hearts yesterday on a one-year loan deal from FBK Kaunus.
A vastly experienced striker, Jankauskas, 30, has graced the top flight in Spain, Belgium, France, Russia and Portugal but always yearned to try his luck in British football.
Described by Hearts manager George Burley as a target man with an eye for goal, the Lithuanian international will be handed his competitive debut in Saturday's league opener against Kilmarnock at Rugby Park.
"He's strong, intelligent, holds the ball up well and scores goals," said Burley. "He's not fully fit at the moment, but he's shown enough in training to suggest he'll do very well at Hearts. He's got all the credentials and if you look at his CV he's played for Porto, Benfica and Real Sociedad."
Jankauskas was signed for Porto by Jose Mourinho and was part of the hugely successful side which plundered five trophies in two seasons under the charismatic Chelsea manager. As well as back-to-back titles, Porto won the UEFA Cup in 2003 by defeating Celtic in Seville. Jankauskas missed out after sustaining an injury on the eve of the final, but returned the following season and played ten games in Porto's successful Champions League campaign, mainly as a substitute.
He featured against Real Madrid, Manchester United, Lyon and Deportivo La Coruna and was an unused sub in the final triumph over Monaco in Gelsenkirchen. "I was left on the bench, but I still got a medal," he explained.
"At Porto we had a very, very strong team. Mourinho signed me from Benfica and I left when he did."
While Mourinho headed to west London, Jankauskas went to France where he spent last season on loan at Nice. His Porto contract expired in the summer and he returned to Lithuania to join Kaunus, the team controlled by Hearts' major shareholder, Vladimir Romanov. His arrival at Tynecastle takes the number of Lithuanians on loan back up to three, following the departure of Marius Kizys earlier this month. Jankauskas talked over his move to Edinburgh with both Saul Mikoliunas and Deividas Cesnauskis and was delighted to take the opportunity to fulfil a long-held ambition.
"Throughout my career I have always thought it would be nice to play in Britain," the striker said. "I've spent ten years playing abroad, but never here and I've always empathised with the British style of play."
Hearts have lacked a physical presence up front since the departure of Lee Miller in the summer, but the arrival of Jankauskas, who is 6ft 3in and 13 stone, will add bite.
Steven Pressley has first-hand experience of his new team-mate and Jankauskas has fond memories of his tussles with the Hearts captain during Lithuania's matches with Scotland during qualifying for Euro 2004.
"The games were like a war," Jankauskas said. "When we met up in the dressing-room here we shared a laugh about it but I'm glad he's now a team-mate."
Honours were shared on the international stage with Jankauskas helping the Lithuanians to a 1-0 win over Scotland in Kaunus in April 2003 and Pressley coming out on top by the same scoreline at Hampden six months later.
Jankauskas, who has over 40 caps, has already played two friendlies for Hearts as a trialist and yesterday became Burley's second Tynecastle signing after the capture last week of Czech midfield player Rudi Skacel, also on a one-year loan. "We've just signed two quality players and when you do that at a club it lifts everyone," said Burley, who is confident of adding four more players before the weekend.
Talks are ongoing with the Czech strikers Michal Pospisil and Roman Bednar and Burley is also running the rule over former West Ham United midfielder Steve Lomas and the French pair Sebastien Schemmel and Julien Brellier. PSV Eindhoven's defender Michael Lamey is another being linked with Hearts, but a return for former Tynecastle midfielder Colin Cameron is unlikely.
"We're working very hard," said Burley. "I've already said we were looking for six new players. We've got two and I would like to bring in another four before Saturday.
"We're talking to the two Czechs and we're not a million miles away. Our striking options are a bit depleted at the moment and we'll start with Edgar on Saturday even though he's not fully fit."
The manager reiterated his determination to hang on to the club's native-born talent, though he conceded he may have to review that position in January if the likes of Paul Hartley and Andy Webster are unhappy at the club.
"We're starting the season with all our Scottish international players," Burley said. "But after six months if a player wants to leave, then we'll look at it."
Celtic had a bid for Hartley rebuffed two weeks ago and Rangers have made an inquiry about Webster. The midfielder is in the final year of his contract while Webster's has two years to run.
There is a determination to keep these players, something which would have been impossible under the previous regime at Tynecastle when financial imperatives dictated a sell-to-survive policy. "I wouldn't be here if I didn't think the club was ambitious," added Burley.