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Last Updated: Thursday, 30 March 2006, 16:06 GMT 17:06 UK
Skacel ready to alter behaviour
Hearts midfielder Rudi Skacel
Rudi Skacel has been defended by team-mates
Interim Hearts head coach Valdas Ivanauskas believes Rudi Skacel is ready to change his behaviour following accusations of diving.

The midfielder was also criticised for gestures towards supporters after Saturday's defeat of Falkirk.

But Ivanauskas said: "Rudi has had a great season and loves football and loves the fans. He is an emotional player who needs extreme situations.

"But I spoke to Rudi and I think we will find him ready make changes."

However, Hearts striker Calum Elliot has defended his team-mate ahead of Sunday's Scottish Cup semi-final showdown.

Hibernian manager Tony Mowbray, on being asked to comment on the controversy about Skacel, appealed for referee Stuart Dougal to be strong on Sunday and insisted that his own youngsters were too honest to dive.
Celtic were interested in me too
Hearts midfielder Rudi Skacel

But Elliot said: "I would say there is a bit of gamesmanship going on there.

"He is trying, not to influence the referee, but to just make him aware of it. I don't think it is diving.

"Some of of the challenges Rudi got on Saturday were not the best, so he has got to go down for a foul if he thinks someone is injuring him."

Meanwhile, has revealed he almost signed for Celtic because he did not believe Hearts were a big enough club.

"I had some offers in the summer to return home and Celtic were interested in me too, which was a possibility as I wanted to play in the Champions League," he said.

"Then Hearts contacted me, but I thought it was too small a club.

"However, George Burley and his assistant, Simon Hunt, called me and my agent five times a day and I saw they really wanted me for their plans.

"I began to pick up some information about the club and saw they wanted to attack the position Celtic and Rangers have traditionally held in the Scottish game.

"I agreed to go and, within a month, George proved the club's ambitions were possible by creating a very strong team.

"The beginning of this season was the best time in my career."


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