Maroon Memories: Pasquale Bruno makes his debut

Pasquale Bruno was instantly welcomed by Hearts fans
Pasquale Bruno was instantly welcomed by Hearts fans
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Hearts, who had been struggling at the bottom of the Premier Division with only two wins from ten matches, signed Italian defender Pasquale Bruno and Hans Eskilsson, a Swedish front-line player.

With recently signed Frenchman Gilles Rousset in goal, Jim Jefferies’ side looked sharper than at any other time this season.

They beat Partick Thistle comfortably, scoring three times, while a defence which had been leaking goals looked more commanding.

Thistle’s scoring opportunities were restricted and, in fact, they contributed little to the afternoon.

Afterwards, Bruno, who had come to Gorgie for a look with the possibility of signing until the end of the season just as Rousset had done, and had known highs with Torino and Juventus, said “I like this football.”

With the Tynecastle faithful chanting his name even though he hadn’t done much, he would like Scottish football, wouldn’t he? Bruno, 33, and seeking one final challenge, said Juventus’s Gianluca Vialli and Roberto Baggio, now of AC Milan, harbour desires to play in British football, but he has made it to these shores first.

However, it is doubtful if Hearts, who have persuaded him and Eskilsson to play three matches with a view to signing a longer deal, would have been able to take a look at him if his style of play had not made him something of an outlaw in Italy.

“I have a problem with the red cards,” he said.

Bruno was suspended so often he should have had a parole officer, but Scottish football, he suspects, might just be his natural environment.

“Today was the maximum for me,” he said. “The fans were fantastic and chanted my name, while we also won the battle.

“In Italy, the players like to play the ball, while in Britain the fans like the battle and the ball is played longer. Here, we have real football. There is no diving and the trainer doesn’t come on to the pitch too often.”

Bruno, a bright, effervescent sort, would be good company if he didn’t keep offering reminders of how out of touch our style of play is, but if his wife and two daughters like the thought of living in the Edinburgh area, Bruno “would rent a flat here tomorrow”.

Jefferies also was pleased with the contributions of Rousset – “He doesn’t look as though he will lose many goals” – and he was delighted with the work of Eskilsson when he ran on to replace Alan Lawrence in 59 minutes.

The Swede had scored Hearts’ third goal within ten minutes. “He isn’t the most technically gifted player in the world, but the big Swede certainly gives everybody a lift,” Jefferies said.

Eskilsson, with his long, curly hair flowing behind, doesn’t bother too much about subtlety and he seemed to scare Thistle’s defenders, who were already having an unpleasant time.

Derek McWilliams scored an own goal after ten minutes and it was downhill from then.

John Millar finished off a sweetly constructed goal involving Allan Johnston and Steve Fulton by heading in the second in 65 minutes, and Thistle were looking sorry for themselves.

Although the fans were busy welcoming Bruno, the best player on the pitch was Johnston, who was out on his own in the second half.

Johnston, 22 next month, was elusive and his exquisite touch sent balls through Thistle’s defence. He also appeared to be more aware than anyone of what was going on.

Hearts: Rousset, Locke (c), Ritchie, Smith, Berry, Bruno, Johnston, Lawrence (Eskilsson 59), Robertson, Fulton (Jamieson 87), Millar. Sub not used: O’Connor

Partick: Walker, Dinnie, Pitman, Smith, Welsh, Watson, McWilliams, Craig, Gibson, Cameron, Foster. Subs not used: Docherty, Milne, Curran

Referee: L Thow (Ayr)

Att: 10,094