Rudi Skacel could return to Tynecastle to play for Hearts one more time

Rudi Skacel could return to Tynecastle and play for Hearts again next year, the Edinburgh Evening News can reveal.
Rudi Skacel celebrates during the 2012 Scottish Cup final.Rudi Skacel celebrates during the 2012 Scottish Cup final.
Rudi Skacel celebrates during the 2012 Scottish Cup final.

Organisers hope to persuade the Czech midfielder to appear in Gary Locke's testimonial match next summer alongside other Scottish Cup winners from 1998, 2006 and 2012.

Skacel, now 42, remains a legendary Hearts figure after two spells in Gorgie, both of which ended triumphantly with him lifting the aforementioned trophy at Hampden Park.

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He retired from playing in June 2019 but his close bond with Locke may see him don the famous maroon shirt once more along with some former team-mates.

Gary Locke is celebrating his testimonial yearGary Locke is celebrating his testimonial year
Gary Locke is celebrating his testimonial year

Locke was first-team coach under manager Paulo Sergio when Hearts beat Hibs 5-1 in the 2012 Scottish Cup final, with Skacel scoring twice.

Locke now works as an ambassador at Tynecastle and is being honoured with a testimonial year in recognition of more than 20 years’ service to the Edinburgh club.

A number of different events are planned, starting tomorrow with an afternoon dinner which is already sold out.

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“It’s at Tynecastle and it’s called Lockie’s Packed Lunch,” explained Scott Wilson, spokesperson for the Gary Locke Testimonial Committee. “The idea is to start off the testimonial year with a bang. We have two great speakers in Frank McAvennie and Peter Brown.

“There will be a raffle and an auction but, importantly, everybody who comes in is given a golden ticket – just like Willy Wonka. There will be a draw during the afternoon and whoever’s golden ticket is drawn wins a day at Tynecastle with Gary.

“They will shadow him on a matchday from arrival right through – meeting match sponsors, a tour of the stadium, photos in the dugout, sitting at his table in the Gorgie Suite, getting interviewed by myself, and they get to sit beside him during the match.

“The winner will also help him pick the Ambassador’s man of the match. As expected, this event sold out very quickly.”

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The next date on the schedule is in February next year and should involve a number of ex-Hearts players who excelled in Edinburgh derby matches, such as John Robertson and Paul Hartley.

“A dinner is planned for Sunday, February 6,” said Wilson. “That will focus on Hearts’ derby victories against Hibs and there will be speakers at that event who have scored in Edinburgh derbies. Fans want to hear footballers telling gags and we will have plenty stories to tell.”

Then comes the main gala dinner on Sunday, April 3. “Because that one will be near the anniversary of the 2012 Scottish Cup final, we will have many of the players from that team there,” said Wilson.

A family day is also planned with a date still to be confirmed. The climax will be the testimonial game itself at Tynecastle, expected to take place in June or July next year and fit in around the first-team’s pre-season schedule.

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The series of events are to honour Locke’s dedication to Hearts throughout his life.

“He lives and breathes the club. He is a genuine dyed-in-the-wool Hearts fans who always has the good of the club at heart,” said Wilson.

“He is what you would describe as a proper Hearts man. He is really humbled by this and very overwhelmed that this honour is being bestowed upon him.”

Search @garylocketestimonial2022 on Facebook or Instagram for further event details.

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