Youth player in 1998, winner in 2006 and fan in 2012, Robbie Neilson now desperate for Scottish Cup final success as manager against Celtic

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ROBBIE NEILSON has played differing roles in Hearts’ last three Scottish Cup victories – now he is desperate to be the man to lead the club to the famous silverware.

The Jambos boss was a youth player at Tynecastle when he travelled to Parkhead to watch the 1998 triumph over Rangers.

Eight years later, the full-back played a crucial role as the Gorgie men lifted the trophy again after a penalty-kicks win against Gretna.

Hearts manager Robbie Neilson | Hearts news
Hearts boss Robbie Neilson: ‘I know what this means to the fans’

When Hearts hammered sworn enemies Hibs 5-1 in 2012, Neilson was back at Hampden but was in with the fans as a Dundee United player.

Now in his second spell as manager, the 40-year-old is fully aware just what it would mean for everyone at the club if Celtic can be overcome at the national stadium.

He said: “I went to the 2012 final even though I was at Dundee United. I actually went with my dad and we had a few beers before the game and sat with the fans. It was a brilliant day.

“I was at the 1998 final at Parkhead and the 2006 final I played in. I didn’t get to the 2019 final but I watched it on the TV.

“I know what this means to the fans as I have been at this club a long time as a player and manager.

OPPORTUNITY

“If we can get a result in this game the players will be remembered for a long time at this club.

“From a coaching perspective, it’s something I’m looking forward to, being able take the club into a cup final. There’s not many managers who have done that.

“Growing up, you want to play for Scotland and you want to win a cup final. I’ve managed to do it and I’ve got guys here who have already done it too.

“I’ve got others who are still hoping to do it and this is an opportunity for them.

“It’s about going into the final and making sure we win it. In 10 years’ time, nobody cares if you’ve been to a final, they’re only interested if you’ve won, especially at a club like Hearts where we haven’t been to, or won, that many.

“When you look back in 10 years’ time, you want to have won it, and nobody will care how you’ve won it. It’s about getting the result.”