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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 July, 2005, 14:17 GMT 15:17 UK
Hearts complete capture of Skacel
Rudolph Skacel with Hearts manager George Burley
Rudolph Skacel's arrival has delighted George Burley
Czech Republic midfielder Rudolph Skacel has become George Burley's first signing as Hearts manager.

Celtic had also been linked with the 26-year-old, who spent last season with Panathinaikos from Marseille, but moved to Hearts on a season-long loan.

Hearts manager George Burley said: "Rudolph is an outstanding player and it is no secret that we've had to beat off some stiff competition.

"I believe that he is excited by the ambition that this club has shown."

Burley had this week expressed himself disappointed with the quality of the squad he inherited but is pleased with the calibre of his first addition.

"He's a versatile and strong lad with a good left foot, he's in his prime and he wants to play for us," he said.
I don't know much about Scottish football
Rudolph Skacel

"People ask if international class players want to come to Scotland or want to come to Hearts, so I think it shows that Hearts have ambition in the type of players that we're looking to bring in."

Skacel helped Panathinaikos finish runners-up in the Greek championship last season and also played for them in the Champions League.

He started his career at SK Hradec Králové and earned a move to Slavia Prague after helping them gain promotion to the top flight.

Skacel joined Marseille in 2003 but was loaned to Panathinaikos, who decided against retaining the player for a sum reported to be about £1m.

He is likely to make his debut in the Wednesday's friendly against Middlesbrough along with veteran Northern Ireland midfielder Steve Lomas, who is training with the Edinburgh club.

Also likely to feature as trialists are Lithuanian striker Edgaras Jankauskas, currently with Porto, and French midfielder Julien Belier.

"Steve trained with us and he's a player I've always liked with his competitive qualities," said Burley.

"He did well at Manchester City and we've taken an opportunity to look at him and so we'll see how it goes.

"Edgaras Jankauskas has trained with us and he looked good."

The 30-year-old, formerly with Zalgiris Vilnius, CSKA Moscow, Torpedo Moscow, Cercle Brugge, Real Sociedad and Benfica, spent last season on loan to Nice.

"He's another one who has played at the highest level and we are very keen to make that a permanent deal," said Burley.

"That's something I will be working at in the next couple of days. "Julien will be involved against Middlesbrough and there maybe some more trialists."

Skacel wants to help Hearts back into Europe next season.

"Hearts are a very strong team and it is a good move for me," he said.

"I don't know much about Scottish football, but I have watched Rangers and Celtic in the Champions League and also the national team."


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