Tomas Cerny today warned gloves rival Mark Oxley that, while he’s delighted to have joined Hibs, he won’t be happy just to sit on the bench.
Easter Road boss Alan Stubbs ended his search for some experienced competition for the on-loan Hull City goalkeeper by snapping up former Hamilton Accies shot-stopper Cerny on a short-term deal after he cut short his stay with Greek club Egotelis to return to Scotland with his wife Laura only a month away from giving birth to their first child.
But, while 29-year-old Cerny accepts he’s arrived in Edinburgh as understudy to the younger Oxley, he’s also determined to force his way into Stubbs’ thoughts.
The Czech star said: “It’s a new situation for me. The manager told me he had been looking for another goalkeeper for the last three or four months – someone with experience who can push Mark and be able to step in.
“I have to accept I am coming into the team in the middle of the season and Mark has played every game bar one. He has done well, so I have to accept that as a starting position. The only thing I can do when he is playing is to try to help him as much as I can, but I also have to do my best in training and be ready.
“Every goalkeeper wants to be No.1. It’s natural to be in that position, but it gives good competition which will help the team. Only one goalkeeper can play, but at every club there are two or three wanting to play. You are rivals but friends, wanting the right thing for the team – there’s no room for anything else.
“It’s important you help and support each other – both in training and in games.”
Cerny revealed he was delighted to be offered a deal, having spent a week training with Stubbs’ squad at their East Mains HQ only weeks after quitting the sunshine island of Crete, where he moved last summer following two years with Bulgarian outfit CSKA Sofia, for whom he notched an impressive record of 32 clean sheets in 57 matches.
The former Czech Under-21 player said: “I had five years with Hamilton. I enjoyed my time there. They gave me my opportunity, and for that I will always be thankful. But the time came to move on to something else to push myself a bit more.
“The move to CSKA was a good one for me but, I am afraid, Greece was not so good. They’d finished sixth or seventh the previous season and I was told they were ready to push for the Europa League spots, so I signed a two-year deal.
“But when I arrived some of the things were not as I had been told – lots of things changed. The manager changed, then again a couple of months later. Lots of players changed, so the team was completely different to the previous year and some financial problems also started and I decided it was not worth staying any longer, so my contract ended in December.”
Having decided to head back to Scotland, Cerny asked friends to let it be known he was on his way and looking for a club and was surprised at the speed with which Hibs moved.
He said: “I felt it was the right time to come back to Scotland. It was important Laura had her family around her for support after the baby comes, and I was also hoping to find a new club. I still have a lot of friends here, so I asked them to let people know I’d be a free agent.
“I got the call from Hibs, came in to training last week, and I must have done something right because then I was offered this deal. I had the chance to train with other clubs, but Hibs was still the biggest and once I came through to the training centre I immediately thought it looked really good and that it would be great to work here.
“You just look at the gym and how many people can train in there, the sports science department, the physios – everything is so impressive.
“Like everyone, I was surprised to see Hibs relegated. No-one expected it, so it came as a big shock, but hopefully it will turn out to be a good thing in a way that the club can be rebuilt, move forward and achieve the things that this club should be achieving.
“I think you can also say the Championship this year is not any worse than the Premiership – it’s a very tough league to play in, a very tough league to win, and it’s difficult even to be promoted. But we all want to see Hibs back in the top league.”
By that strange quirk of fate it was Cerny’s old club Hamilton which finally condemned Hibs to the drop – Accies winning that dramatic penalty shoot-out in the play-offs.
Naturally, that pleased Cerny at the time – though, as he mused, if that hadn’t been the outcome, he may not be a Hibs player today.
He said: “I don’t think football can ever cease to surprise you – there’s always something totally unexpected happening. Might I be a Hibs player today? Who knows, but I’d never have dreamt of it happening back then. But I’m looking forward to getting back into Scottish football – I played against Hibs a few times when I was with Hamilton.
“Results were mixed. Hamilton generally did better at New Douglas Park. I do remember, though, a 5-1 hammering by Hibs at Easter Road but, there again, Accies had a 4-1 win at home, which basically kept us up that season.
“I also know a few of the players already here. I’ve played against the likes of Liam Craig, Scott Robertson and a few others, but I’m just delighted to be back in Scotland, to be playing and enjoying myself again.”