Hearts 21st century XI - The left-midfielder revealed

"Skacel, ominous." Two words from the mouth of Sky commentator Ian Crocker during the 2012 Scottish Cup final. Two words that foresaw the danger coming. Two words that perfectly encapsulated the excitement and expectation felt by Hearts supporters, not to mention the fear felt by the opposition, every time Rudi Skacel shifted the ball on to his left foot within sight of goal.

Tuesday, 9th July 2019, 11:33 am
Former Hearts attacker Rudi Skacel.
Former Hearts attacker Rudi Skacel.

Of course, the ball ended up in the back of the Hibs net and Hearts went on to win the final in rampant fashion, with Skacel scoring a second in the 5-1 victory, forever cementing his legacy at Tynecastle. If you ever hear or see Skacel being called a "cult hero", immediately argue against it. There is nothing "cult" about Skacel's hero status. He is a bona fide, 100 per cent, Hearts legend.

In three seasons at Tynecastle, split across two spells, he netted double figures each and every campaign and won two Scottish Cup finals, netting three times across those two Hampden showdowns.

It could be a long time before another Hearts player wins multiple trophies, let alone someone who played a role as prominent as the Czech attacker.

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Former Hearts attacker Rudi Skacel.

It may also take quite a while before we see club and player have such an affinity with one another as Hearts and Skacel enjoyed.

While he may have played at higher levels, most notably with Marseille in the French top flight, even his performances in more humble surroundings didn't live up to what he produced in Gorgie. In 2005/06 he netted 17 goals. Upon his return in 2010/11 he banged in another 13 (in only 29 matches) and hit a new high with a stunning 18 the following season. All from midfield.

Skacel played for ten other clubs in his career and never hit double-figures once. To underline this point, he moved to Dundee United for the first half of the 2012-13 campaign and, fresh off his cup final heroics, scored once in 16 games.

If you want another moment to define his brilliance, how about the time he bagged a hat-trick against St Mirren to help a ten-man Hearts side come from behind to defeat the visitors 5-2? A hat-trick where every goal was struck outside of the penalty area.

He was the deadliest finisher Hearts have seen since the days of John Robertson and he deservedly takes a place in this team.

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