Skacel to leave Hearts following Cup Final win

May 13, 2006

Rudi Skacel will leave Hearts after helping the Jambos to their first Tennent's Scottish Cup triumph since 1998 with a penalty-kicks win over Gretna at Hampden.

The Second Division champions looked to be struggling at half-time after the Czech midfielder had given the Edinburgh side the lead.

However, Ryan McGuffie equalised after the break, forcing the ball past Craig Gordon after his penalty had been saved.

In extra-time Jambos' midfielder Paul Hartley was sent off for two bookings before a dramatic penalty kick shoot-out got under way.

Hearts confidently scored their first four with Derek Townsley and Gavin Skelton both failing to convert for the Borders club.

Skacel, who was brought to Edinburgh on loan from Marseille by George Burley at the beginning of the season, recently had a two-year option on his contract bought up by the Tynecastle club although he was rumoured to be looking to move.

And when he opened the scoring he pulled off his Hearts shirt to reveal a t-shirt saying, 'I will never forget. Thanks Jambos'

After the game he confirmed his impending departure saying: 'The t-shirt was because I wanted to say thank you to the supporters and it was probably me saying goodbye.

'I will take some time to make a decision but I probably won't stay at Hearts, but I want to stay in the United Kingdom.

'I am very sad because it has been a fantastic year for me and the team. I have enjoyed my time but some things have changed in the last four months I'm not 100% happy about.

'But I don't want to speak about it now because I want to celebrate.

'I am very sad but everybody who knows me, knows why I want to leave but that's life.

'It is an emotional time for me, we came second in the league and won the cup but I'm sad because it's probably my last game for Hearts.'

Hartley, the Gorgie club's regular penalty taker, feared his late sending off could have had disastrous consequences for the Gorgie club.

He said: 'I was watching the penalty kicks inside and I was an absolute nervous wreck because I was fearing my sending off might have cost us the cup.

'I wasn't nervous when Steven Pressley stepped up but I was nervous when Robbie Neilson did.

'No disrespect but I didn't think he had that in him but his was one of the best penalties.

'No disrespect to Gretna either but we hadn't practised penalties.

'It was frustration on my part. I just lashed out at Townsley. And my first booking for dissent was after we had a penalty appeal turned down.

'It was a clear-cut penalty, anybody could see that.

'I watched the replay on the television, Skacel was right through and Alan Main brought him down and the referee waves play on.

'But he gave them a penalty for probably the same sort of incident.

'But we won the cup so who cares. Gretna played well but so what?'

Craig Gordon, who saved Townsley's penalty, claimed his homework had paid off.

He said: 'I've only lost one penalty shoot-out in my life and I was confident I could pull off a save or two.

'I had a bit of information on a couple of their penalty takers, that worked in the 90 minutes but unfortunately McGuffie managed to stick in the rebound.

'I go into most games knowing who the opposition's penalty takers are and where they have put their last penalties.

'I knew James Grady normally likes to hit with power and he managed to beat me.

'It can be and advantage and it's part and parcel of the game.

'It doesn't matter how we got there and we will be taking the cup back to Tynecastle.

'We put the supporters through the mill and I'm sure we will get a good reception going back to Tynecastle.

'The fans have backed us all season and they deserve it.'