RUDI SKACEL confirmed today that he is leaving Hearts and has begun seeking a new club for next season.
The Czech midfielder’s second spell in Edinburgh ended with no offer from Tynecastle officials to discuss a new contract following the Scottish Cup final win over Hibs in May. Skacel spoke with Hearts director Sergejus Fedotovas a number of weeks ago, but there were no talks aimed at renewing his agreement. Reluctantly, the player has now accepted he must move elsewhere to continue his career.
He has several suitors on the continent and intends to decide his future within “the next few weeks”. Seven days shy of his 33rd birthday, Skacel is eager to secure a move to an ambitious club which can satisfy his desire for top-level football. He has played in his native Czech Republic, France, Greece, England and Germany as well as Scotland and remains open-minded about where his future could lie.
Hearts have reduced budgets for next season and hope to promote youth academy players to the first team in an effort to reduce expenditure. New manager John McGlynn is charged with the task of developing the young players, leaving Skacel surplus to requirements despite finishing as top goalscorer in each of his three seasons as a Hearts player – 2005/06, 2010/11 and 2011/12.
He told the Evening News he is disappointed at having to move on but is now focused on pursuing a new deal elsewhere. “I didn’t speak with Hearts about any offer,” said Skacel. “I spoke with Sergey a few weeks ago and we talked about some stuff but nothing about my future. For me, it’s important to find a new challenge because the whole package has to be right. I want to play for something. I felt very well the last two years and I need a new challenge, so I want to see what will happen.
“Yes I am sad, but I cannot be at Hearts for the rest of my life. I have to take care of myself and make the best move for my career. Like I said, I want some challenges and I want to play for something. I will see who gives me the best offer at this time. I have a few things going on and I’ve had a few talks with a few people. Nothing is concrete and I will decide in the next few weeks what will be the best option for me. I want to make the right decision for myself.”
Skacel hinted in the aftermath of the 5-1 cup final victory over Hibs – in which he scored to twice to take his season’s tally to 18 – that he would not be back at Tynecastle next season. He joins Craig Beattie, Suso Santana and Ian Black as high-profile departures from last season’s squad as Hearts, like many clubs across the country, reduce the size of their senior squad.
Supporters will be disappointed by his exit, having idolised his goalscoring feats since he first arrived in Gorgie on loan from Olympique Marseille in July 2005. The player, though, refuses to rule out a possible return to Hearts at some point in the future – perhaps even in a coaching capacity – on the basis that he never expected to don a maroon shirt again after a fall-out with owner Vladimir Romanov in 2006.
“You never know what will happen because football is strange and football life is weird,” continued Skacel. “I never ever thought I would go back to Hearts after 2006 and then I came back in 2010 and stayed for another two years. Maybe I will come back again. But I don’t like to speak about maybe in football. Perhaps one day it can happen, but this is football and football is crazy.”
Skacel’s left-foot sorcery delighted thousands of fans throughout both his spells in Scotland and helped him achieve the rarity of two Scottish Cup winner’s medals from his time with Hearts. In total, he scored 48 goals in 109 appearances for the club despite playing the majority of those matches in a midfield role. He leaves having achieved legendary status and knowing he brought so much joy to so many people. However, he is not keen to wallow in any sycophancy.
“I think I probably said enough after the Scottish Cup final. I don’t want to speak about ifs,” he said. “I said after the final how I felt and how things were looking. There is no point adding any more at this time because I must look to my future. I’m looking for any interest from any club. We will see what will be the best for me.
“There has been some interest from other sides. I have a few options and I want to decide what will be the best for me. If I can play in European competition next season it will be great. I just have to find the best solution for my future.”