GILLES ROUSSET has told the Hearts players this weekend will be the best of their lives if they can overcome Hibs at Hampden tomorrow.
The big French goalkeeper, named Man of the Match, was instrumental in the Gorgie club’s victory over Rangers in 1998, an occasion he still recalls as the greatest in his career.
He said: “Winning the Scottish Cup, my first ever trophy at the age of 35, was definitely the best moment of my career. I played for France, which was a fantastic honour, but nothing will ever top what happened with Hearts. I will never forget the day after we defeated Rangers when we went along Princes Street on the open-top bus with the trophy.
“There must have been at least 100,000 Hearts fans along the celebration route and seeing the joy in their faces really brought home how much winning meant. I still watch the parade on video and it brings a tear to my eye. It was a sunny day and everyone at Hearts was on top of the world. But this may be the biggest game in Hearts’ history. I can’t even bear to think about the prospect of Hearts losing to Hibs.”
Rousset, who won’t make it to Hampden as he has a training session with Lyon where he works as a coach, recalls having to down champagne in the aftermath of the 1998 triumph so he could produce a urine sample for a routine drugs test. He said: “Initially, I couldn’t do the test so I had to drink. I was asked if I’d like water, tea or coffee but told them in no uncertain terms I needed champagne.
“At first I drank it from a wee cup. But that went down so quickly I decided just to drink from the bottle. Before I knew it, it was empty. It was very good. I felt fine, although with all the emotions of having won the Scottish Cup for the first time in 36 years, I was on my own planet.”