Good day for Frenchman
By IAN PAUL
5 Feb 1996
Hearts 2, Raith Rovers 0 HE was the only Frenchman in town with a smile on his face, but Gilles Rousset has been wearing one of those since he arrived in Edinburgh last October.
"It has been a bad day," he said, a remark defied by the grin almost as wide as the pleading, widespread arms, "but I would rather Hearts won and France lost, than the other way around." Since Jim Jefferies persuaded him to try his luck at Tynecastle, the king-sized keeper has resurrected a career that was going nowhere.
He has had three shutouts in succession, five in his past seven games, and admits to enjoying life in Scotland.
Even so, whether he will stay after his contract runs out in the summer is not certain.
"I would like to stay with Hearts, there is no doubt about that, but I am 32 and need to have good contract to give me security for my family." He, Jefferies, and chairman Chris Robinson have begun negotiations for a new arrangement and the keeper is hopeful all will be well.
"My career has started again here and my future will be in Britain.
I much prefer the way things are done here compared to France.
There, there are so many people interfering with the coach, and everybody does everybody's else's job.
"Here, the manager is the manager, the directors do their job, and the players are left to do theirs." Rousset played rugby as well as football when he was a schoolboy but found it was not for him.
"They are too strong for me." He had expected and hoped relatives and friends would have come over for the Murrayfield international but business commitments prevented it.
He acknowledged that maybe it was not so bad, the way things turned out.
His own theory in explanation of Hearts' sparkling run which has taken them into third place in the premier division is simple enough.
"I think that the mixture in the team now is good, a blend of youth and experience.
"Also, Pasquale Bruno, Hans Eskilsson, and I have got to know the players now and they have got to know us.
We were welcomed here very warmly.
I think our confidence has grown.
After beating Rangers, I think the players know now they can beat anybody." His own excellent form, he believes, has been because he arrived here "hungry" to play well.
He seems uninterested in the possibility that his resurgence could attract the French international manager but perhaps that would change if it became a reality.
In any case, the charismatic keeper had another fine game against a Raith Rovers side which showed genuine glimpses of the form that took them up the table in similar fashion earlier in the season.
Now, they have to rediscover that standard if they are to prevent themselves from slipping further back down.
Hearts have played far better recently but they did stick with the game-plan and earned their reward in due course, eventually playing some entertaining and exciting football in the closing stages.
They were helped by some debatable decisions by the referee, particularly the penalty kick which put them in front, and the free kick which produced the second goal, incidents which Rovers might well consider rather important.
When Gary Locke, who had another fine game, went down inside the penalty area as Julian Broddle challenged, it seemed, from our vantage point, that he had collapsed in anticipation rather than as a result of serious contact.
The referee was close to the incident, however, and immediately pointed to the spot.
Even then, Raith were unlucky as John Robertson's kick was brilliantly parried by Les Fridge and, when Ronnie Coyle beat the striker to the rebound, he was stunned as his attempted clearance hit the Hearts man and went into the net.
The free kick that put the game beyond argument was, again, dubious.
Broddle was in the midst of it once more as he challenged Alan Johnston in the air but Locke made a splendid job of the opportunity.
Hearts were due their win in any case, emerging clearly as the better team, but Rovers chief Jimmy Nicholl felt encouraged by the improvement in his team's showing.
The manager hopes they will step up a further gear when they meet Aberdeen at Pittodrie on Wednesday.
Hearts just want to keep the ball rolling along.
Taken from the Herald