Hearts’ Peter Haring joyful at winning fitness fight for cup final

While his team-mates have been preoccupied with the business of seeing out a less than memorable end to the league season, Peter Haring has been single-mindedly focused on this Saturday’s Scottish Cup final.

Hearts' Peter Haring with the William Hill Scottish Cup. Picture: Bill Murray/SNS
Hearts' Peter Haring with the William Hill Scottish Cup. Picture: Bill Murray/SNS

After his groin complaint flared up in the days following the semi-final victory over Inverness Caledonian Thistle, he feared that he would have to settle for the role of cheerleader as the club looks to end the season with a trophy-winning curtain call at Hampden. But a period of rest and rehabilitation has brought him back to fitness just in time for the showcase fixture.

“I’m fit and ready to go,” he said. “ I was really trying hard to be ready for this game. I was doing everything possible to play in the Scottish Cup final. I’m really happy that I feel quite well and I’m really looking forward to it.

“After the semi-final against Inverness, it was quite sore. It didn’t change for about a week. I was worried and that’s why we tried the injection to see if it would help. Thankfully it did. I didn’t really know if I would make it or not and I told the gaffer and I had to see day by day and week by week if it would get better but thankfully it did and I’m feeling really good at the moment. I’m fully fit.”

But after a six-week lay-off he knows how rigorous the demands will be against a side only one step away from a historic treble treble. But he also grasps the magnitude of the reward at stake and insists that will help him through the opening spell as he battles to get back up to match speed.

“I expect the first 10-15 minutes to be tough for me as well but as the game goes on I’ll feel comfortable again. I’m not too worried about it.”

Unflappable and uncomplicated, his manager has described the Austrian he signed as a centre-half, deployed as an emergency forward but has utilised most effectively in the middle of the park, as gloriously low 
maintenance.

His response to that backs it up.

“Yeah I think so. I don’t want to be a complicated guy. I take everything quite easy and I just like it when everything is in order, relaxed and calm.”

Of course he knows that none of those things will apply to life after the final whistle, if Hearts were to get the result they desire.

“No, definitely not. That’s football, that’s what happens afterwards.”

He has heard enough tales and watched enough videos of previous Hearts cup wins to know what to expect, with no-one in the dressing room oblivious to the open-top bus parades and the sea of fans which lines the route when silverware heads to Gorgie.

The 26 year-old signed up at Tynecastle, lured by the promise of games of this calibre and knows he is following in the footsteps of a fellow Austrian, whose own contribution to the 1998 cup story earned him legendary status at Tynecastle.

“When I came here, everyone asked me about Thomas Flogel. Also when I told my family I had the opportunity to play for Hearts this year, my dad said ‘ah, who was the Austrian guy that played for Hearts?’ He looked it up and it was Flogel.

“I met him in December and we had a chat. It was good to have an Austrian player here before.

“I didn’t know him personally before meeting him when he came to Edinburgh. It was just a nice normal chat about what he’s doing, what I’m doing, how I liked the city. He gave some tips on where to be, about Scottish people and everything about the club as well.”

And, of course, there were tales of 98. “That’s why everyone talks about him and asks me about him because he won the trophy with Hearts. It would be amazing to do it myself.”

Having heard the stories from one of those who helped achieve it, he has also fuelled his own excitement and drive by watching clip after clip of the day itself and the aftermath, from that cup win and the triumphs that followed in 2006 and 2012.

“Yeah I’ve seen all [the videos] I think. Not just now but all year long it has given us some extra motivation, for this game but especially when you start a cup competition and you see what happens when you win. Everyone’s seen all the pictures and videos and it would be the best feeling ever.”

Haring will have more than a dozen family and friends over from Austria to soak it all in as he contests the biggest game of his career.

“I’ve never been to a final before,” he added. “I had never played in a semi-final before I came to Hearts. It will be a very special day

After the highs and lows of a season that has been dogged by lengthy injuries, bright performances and then demoralising dips, Haring says that emerging from it with a trophy would be notable and set them up for an enjoyable summer and burgeoning hope for the new term.

“Yes. If you finish the season with a trophy it’s always good, no matter what happened before,” he said.

“We don’t really think about what happened all season long. Saturday will be a very special day for all of us.

“First of all, we have to enjoy it. We are really looking forward to the final. We just need to put in everything we can to win.”