Hearts captain Christophe Berra admits lifting the William Hill Scottish Cup at Hampden Park on Saturday would be the pinnacle of his career.
The 34-year-old defender came through the youth ranks at Tynecastle to make his name in the first team following his debut in 2003 and returned to the club in 2017 after spells at Wolverhampton and Ipswich.
Capped 41 times for Scotland, he was an unused substitute when the Jambos beat Gretna on penalties in the 2006 Scottish Cup final at the national stadium and won the English Championship with Wolves in 2009.
However, Berra conceded the significance of beating a strongly-favoured Celtic side who are aiming for an unprecedented domestic triple treble and taking the trophy back to Tynecastle for the first time since 2012.
He said: “I have had some big games in my career, played obviously with my national team but I think this would be the highlight.
“I have come back to Scotland, to Edinburgh, to my home team and I don’t think there would be a better occasion or highlight of my career than lifting the trophy with Hearts.
“I am not getting any younger so there won’t be as many opportunities in the next few years although hopefully there will be.
“In football, especially when you are younger, you don’t realise there are very few players who will have opportunities to win silverware.
“In Scotland at the moment Celtic are dominating the domestic scene and down in England it is Man City and Liverpool.
“If you are not in that bracket it is very few and far between. You have to give your all at every opportunity you get and hopefully make the most of it.”
The Parkhead club recently clinched their eighth successive Ladbrokes Premiership title and have only lost one domestic game this year, a 2-0 defeat by Rangers at Ibrox almost two weeks ago when the league was already in the bag.
Hearts go into the match with one win in eight including a 2-1 loss at Celtic Park on the last day of the league season albeit both bosses fielded under-strength sides.
However, Berra will travel to Glasgow in optimistic mood.
He said: “Every team has weaknesses but they have won eight in a row so they undoubtedly have that quality.
“We will respect them but we won’t fear them.
“We always have a big performance in us, we have done it against Celtic in the past, especially at home.
“Hampden is Celtic’s second home so it will be a difficult task.
“But we hold no fear. It will be a tough game, we are not stupid, we are the underdogs but we have nothing to lose.
“We know what we are coming up against and looking forward to the challenge.
“We are very excited. It is a massive occasion to be involved in.
“It feels like a long week, we just want the game to come and we will deal with it.
“We have been working hard on the training pitch on things we want to do and if we can put those things into the match with a bit of lady luck we have a chance.”
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