WHEELING away with tongue jabbed out and both hands benchpressing the air in front. Almost nine years have passed since Tynecastle witnessed a Michal Pospisil goal celebration. In fact, the last Hearts-Aberdeen Scottish Cup tie there brought arguably Pospisil’s finest strike in maroon.
His blistering volley from Callum Elliot’s cross kickstarted a 3-0 win over the Pittodrie club in the fourth round in February, 2006. The Czech striker etched his name in club folklore three months later, converting the crucial fourth penalty in a 4-2 shootout victory over Gretna in the final at Hampden Park. It is a period and a tournament he will never forget.
At the ripe old age of 36, he now plays in Germany’s Bezirksliga with VFB Straubing. The celebration is still the same, but it doesn’t mean quite as much in the amateur seventh tier of German football. Pospisil is in Abu Dhabi with his family on a winter break but happily interrupts the holiday to pore over his Scottish Cup exploits.
In a career featuring success in the Czech Republic and Belgium, he finds it difficult to better the scenes in both Glasgow and Edinburgh in May 2006.
“I still keep lots of pictures and DVDs from the final and the celebrations the next day,” he said. “I saw so many people the day after the final when we travelled on the bus [through Edinburgh]. I realised what it means for the supporters. Normally, at Tynecastle, I used to see 17,000 people. There were 25,000 in Glasgow for the final and then maybe 100,000 in the streets of Edinburgh the next day. That’s when I realised how big a success we achieved for all the Hearts fans in Edinburgh and all the supporters all over Scotland.
“It was one of the biggest successes in my career. I won the Czech Cup, the European Under-21 Championship and the Czech league so in my career it was like automatic – every second year, a trophy would come.”
Ironically, for someone popular with fans, many of Pospisil’s Hearts appearances were as a substitute. He often had to play a cameo role during his two-and-a-half years there due to the established attacking duo of Roman Bednar and Edgaras Jankauskas. He maintained an instinctive eye for goal, though. When named in the starting line-up for the Aberdeen cup tie, it took him just 21 minutes to lash home that volley.
“I remember the goal against Aberdeen,” he recalled. “I remember thinking it was early in the cup and it could be a long competition. I was never thinking ‘we can win the cup’ at that stage. We concentrated a lot on the league that year so getting to the next round of the cup was like a bonus for us.
“We never expected we could get a club from the Second Division in the final. The Old Firm were already out, which I never expected. I thought we would get one of the Glasgow teams. In the end, it was a bit of luck to get Gretna in the final but the expectation from our supporters was like, ‘100 per cent, we have to win.’
“We had beaten Hibs 4-0 in the semi-final. Playing Hibs is always a great derby, even though that one was in Glasgow. We didn’t know who else would be in the final so it was another step for us. If you win the semi-final and then lose in the final, you are still nothing. You are a loser. We knew if we beat Hibs we would be very close. It was only one game and anything could happen.
“Against Gretna we struggled and needed penalties. We were big favourites for the trophy. It was a long match and a big relief after the game.”
The outpouring of public joy certainly stuck in his mind. Pospisil made a point of taking his eldest son, nine-year-old David, to Tynecastle as a mascot on a subsequent visit to Edinburgh so he could experience the atmosphere for himself.
The player now feels compelled to do likewise with his youngest son, Daniel, aged six.
“I’ve been back twice. Once to play in Robbie Neilson’s testimonial, which was a nice opportunity, and once for a visit with my family. We like Edinburgh and we have nice memories and friends there. I also wanted to show my son Hearts because we are still big Hearts supporters. David was a mascot before one of the games while we were there.
“Now I have a second son, so I will have to go to Edinburgh again,” he laughed. “I want to go again to see Hearts and see our friends. I’m sure my wife would like to go again so hopefully this year I will have a chance to go.”
The Scottish Cup final on May 21 would be the perfect chance, should Hearts get there.
“That would be great but I will need to see when my season finishes. It be tough to get a ticket as well,” said Pospisil.
He has some friends in high places who would surely lend a hand.
“I still keep in touch with Rudi Skacel so, if we go to the pub, then we always mention how we did in the Scottish Cup with Hearts!”
Czech lager is often consumed in large quantities but a beer with those two would provide enough tales to fill any cup, Scottish or otherwise.