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Craig Gordon hopes he and Robbie Neilson can enjoy another Scottish Cup moment

SOCCER Scottish_Cup
(Image credit: Andrew Milligan)

Craig Gordon is hoping he and manager Robbie Neilson can enjoy another special Scottish Cup moment 16 years on from the last time they won the tournament together.

The pair were team-mates in their early-to-mid-20s when the Jambos defeated Gretna on penalties in the 2006 final.

Now Gordon, 39, is captain and Neilson, 41, is manager as Hearts attempt to topple Rangers in Saturday’s showpiece match at Hampden.

“It would be special to do it again together,” said Gordon. “Robbie would be the first player and manager to win the cup with Hearts and for me personally to win two Scottish Cups, there’s not many people who have done that at Hearts.

“That would be fantastic for both of us and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Reflecting on their days as Hearts team-mates together in the noughties, Gordon said: “Robbie’s a couple of years older than me. He won the Youth Cup just before I got to Hearts and he was in the first team a little bit before me.

“He was a hard-working player who never really said too much in the changing room, a bit like myself really. We were both fairly quiet.

“As he progressed, you could see his work ethic and how he thought about the game would suit well for management.”

Neilson and Gordon both returned to Hearts at the start of the 2020/21 season following their relegation to the Championship.

The Jambos have already finished third in the Premiership this term and the Scotland goalkeeper believes Scottish Cup glory would be a fitting reward for Neilson.

“Robbie’s done a tremendous job to stabilise everything and really push the standards of this club forward again and getting us back to where we should be,” said Gordon.

“He’s done it so quickly so he deserves huge credit for the turnaround we’ve had. We’re not finished there. We want to keep pushing those standards further.

“Robbie’s had some rough patches and he’s come through all of them. To be sitting here in the week of a cup final having finished in third place, it shows how far we’ve come as a group.

“He’s been at the head of it all since he came back here. He knew it was going to be challenging at times but he’s faced every challenge and managed to improve the team along the way.

“I’m sure he’s got big ambitions for next season but for him to win the cup would be a good reward for what he’s already managed to achieve in his first couple of years back here.”

Hearts and Rangers meet in a final for the first time since 1998 when the Jambos won 2-1 at Celtic Park to end a 36-year trophy drought.

Gordon – a boyhood Hearts fan – was there as a 15-year-old.

“I actually missed both the goals in 98 because I was taking part in the penalty shootout on the pitch at half-time,” he said.

“I missed the first one because I was late getting to my seat as they were showing us where we were to go for the half-time entertainment.

“We scored again fairly quickly after half-time and we were getting changed after the penalty shootout. I didn’t see either goal but I managed to get back to my seat for the celebrations at the end.

“I remember going back to Tynecastle and the guys were standing on top of the bus after smashing the skylight to get out.

“It was just a great feeling to win it after so long without winning it. For everybody, that was such a release of emotions.”

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