ZDENEK ZLAMAL has vowed to use Hearts’ Scottish Cup agony as motivation to bring silverware to Tynecastle.
The Jambos number one admits that he could not stop obsessing over the penalty incident which went a long way towards dashing maroon dreams in the aftermath of the narrow 2-1 reverse against Celtic.
Zlamal still reckons referee Willie Collum got it wrong when he pointed to the spot, adjudging that the big Czech fouled Odsonne Eduoard, allowing the Frenchman to level the scores before ultimately completing the turnaround.
Those season-defining few minutes haunted Zlamal for several days afterward – but he is now determined to channel his frustration into making amends.
He said: “For three or four days, I still had the Scottish Cup in my mind. It was very tough to forget that. Time is a healer and a holiday helped, but that was the hardest loss of my career.
“We were so close to doing something so special.
“And, personally, I looked back and thought ‘it was not a foul and then I got my finger to the penalty’. It was a matter of centimetres. These are hard things to get out of your head.
“I can say for sure that the pain will motivate me. It is not just myself, I think this will drive on the whole team to lift a trophy. We got the chance to see how excited the fans were, enjoy the build up and play in such a big match and we all want to get back there.
“I want to bring a trophy back to Tynecastle.”
That fixture was the culmination of a maiden campaign in Scotland which could barely have been more eventful for the ex-Sparta Prague, Udinese and Cadiz goalkeeper.
Zlamal made a high profile error in Hearts’ 3-0 Betfred Cup semi-final reverse against Celtic at Murrayfield, was dropped following a 5-0 defeat against Livingston and won his place back in time for the Hampden showpiece.
There was also the unseemly sight of a Hibs fan aiming a punch at him during a powder-keg Edinburgh derby draw last October.
Reflecting on that incident with almost comical understatement, he continued: “Okay, I was punched and bad things happen but these are small details. It was maybe a strange season for a lot of reasons but I enjoyed it very much. I felt good.”
He added: “Reaching the Scottish Cup final was a big achievement and we were brilliant at the start of the season but then it was up-down, up-down. If we can find consistency then we can be much better.”
Zlamal, meanwhile, has assured the Jambos faithful that he is in Edinburgh for the long haul after revealing his wife has fallen head over heels in love with the Scottish capital.
Marital discord could be on the cards due to his other half, Kamila’s, desire to remain in Auld Reekie for the rest of their lives, with the culture, food and infrastructure ensuring the family has found a home away from home.
As a proud son of Olomouc, Zlamal struggles to imagine turning his back on the Czech Republic forever.
Nevertheless, he has seldom felt so settled and, after a nomadic period of four clubs in five years prior to joining Hearts last summer, is lapping up the stability of his stint in Scotland.
He added: “The problem in my career was that, for a number of years, I changed club every season. That was really tough and hard for my family. Now I am here and I want to stay as long as possible.
“That stability is very important for me. I feel like, after a long time, that I have found the right club for me and I have everything I could want in Edinburgh and at Hearts.
“We are settled in Edinburgh and my wife, Kamila, wants to stay here for the rest of her life. I am more 50/50 about that. I am very proud of Czech Republic and would like to go back there after my career, so this will mean some arguments with my wife!
“She just loves the people, the restaurants and facilities. There is a lot of things to do for kids. It’s not like we don’t have those things in Prague but she said the people are more lovely in Edinburgh.”