Skacel: 'I'll always be a Jambo in my heart'

RUDI SKACEL is adamant that he'll always be a Jambo at heart after an unbelievable season at Tynecastle.

But the Czech insisted today that he couldn't stay at the club because he feared Vladimir Romanov's bubble was about to burst.

Skacel played for Hearts for just one year, from July 2005 to July 2006. During that short time he did enough to ensure hero status among the club's supporters. However, he didn't enjoy the same relationship with the Lithuanian banker.

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Skacel scored seven goals in his first seven SPL games for the club, and netted in the 1-1 Scottish Cup final against Gretna, a game Hearts went on to win on penalties. But, following a series of bust-ups with the Hearts owner, the 29-year-old quit the club at the end of that season to re-join former boss George Burley at Southampton.

The frontman is now three months into a loan deal at Hertha Berlin in Germany, and while he may be playing his football hundreds of miles away, the Hearts result is still the first one he looks for when he gets back into the dressing room after a game.

He still keeps in touch with a number of the players from his time at Tynecastle and has been saddened to see them fail to secure a place in the top six of the table this season.

"I speak to the boys from Hearts all the time and all of the time I look out for the Jambos' results," revealed Skacel.

"What can I say? Every time I see their results and they have lost a game I feel so sorry for their supporters because they deserve better.

"The fans were good to me and they are fantastic for the team.

"It is almost two years ago that I left and even then I thought that it would turn out like this because it is not right.

"The owner picked the team and not the manager and there were a lot of bad things coming out all the time.

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"I had a bad feeling about it and that was the reason that I decided I must move away from the club.

"I wanted to stay but I had a feeling that something like this would happen and it has maybe even been worse than I thought."

However, having seen an improvement in the club's performances in recent weeks under Stephen Frail, Skacel hopes that there are better times ahead for the fans who backed him so vociferously during his time in Edinburgh: "I have never forgotten my time with Hearts, it was a great time for me.

"Every time I see their result or someone talks about them, I think of the time that I spent there.

"The supporters were amazing, I have nice memories – and hopefully there will be some good times to come for them over the next few seasons."

Skacel, of course, was part of the Hearts side which was flying high at the top of the SPL table before George Burley's departure from the club.

And while he can never know for certain, Skacel believes that the Tynecastle side could have been in with a real chance of winning the title in that campaign if their manager had remained in place.

He added: "It is a shame that the club is in this situation, they are in the bottom six and that should not be happening, they should be competing in the UEFA Cup all of the time, not down at the wrong end of the table.

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"I feel sorry for people who support the Jambos because the situation is not good and it must be difficult also for the players.

"The season that I played there we were at the top of the league and when things started to go wrong I was angry because we had a very good dressing room, good supporters and a good team.

"We were a very good family and we won the Scottish Cup.

"For half the season we were top of the league and if things had been done differently then I think we could have made a better fight for the title with Celtic. We finished the season 15 or 16 points behind Celtic and we were glad we had second place.

"We will never know if we could have won the league that season, but we could have had a real chance.

"It got to the stage where no-one knew what was happening from one day to the next and it is not a good situation.

"In the end I think that it was very lucky that we stayed second because it was a very strange time. We only managed to do that because we had a good support and a good dressing room and we stayed together like a unit.

"If we hadn't had these troubles we could have finished a bit better." Skacel has been on loan in Berlin since January and the Bundesliga club have first option on the player at the end of the season should they wish to make the deal permanent: "I like English football and think that it is more close to my style, but I am happy and at this moment I am enjoying my football and playing for a good club in a very good league.

"I have another year left with Southampton but I am here with Berlin and they have an option where they can buy me.

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"At this moment I am happy and I think that I can stay here, I think it is a good option for me and I am fully focused on helping Berlin to finish the season as high up the league as possible.

Skacel scored in Hertha Berlin's 1-1 draw with Bochum at the weekend, bringing to a welcome end a run of three defeats on the bounce and he admits he's loving life in Germany.

He opted for the switch to the Bundesliga to improve his chances of playing his way into the Czech national side.

He continued: "We lost three games in a row before the weekend, but everything is generally going well for me right now and I am enjoying my football in Germany.

"My confidence is back and I am playing for a big club in a big league now. I have been playing regularly and it is a tough league.

"I have played in a lot of leagues and everyone asks me to compare the standards of football but I don't think that is fair.

"It is certainly different because in the United Kingdom the football is more up and down the park, while here in Germany it is more about keeping the ball.

"It is more technical and it is different football, it is a strong league.

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Looking to the future, he said: "I have a deal until the end of the season and we will see what happens at the end. They have got an option to buy me at the end of that deal but I am not thinking about that right now, I am only thinking about the next game for Berlin and trying to always do my best for the club.

"The Czech manager definitely keeps an eye on the German leagues but maybe does not like so much leagues like the Championship, which is a shame because I think that it is a very good competition.

"There are a lot of international players who play their football there and I think it is one of the toughest leagues that I have played in but the Czech manager sees it as the second league.

"I know that when I signed for Berlin that I have a better chance of playing in the Czech national side.

"Obviously it is up to the manager but I wanted to do everything that I could. I will keep working hard and we will see – maybe he will pick me."