For Jim Jefferies, it would have been easy to select a player of John Robertson’s calibre to start in the Scottish Cup final in 1998. But management is all about decision-making and despite Robertson being an initial substitute, Jefferies’ decision was justified.

In the end, it proved a masterstroke as the Jambos defeated Rangers 2-1 at Parkhead with fellow striker Stephane Adam netting what proved to be the winning goal. But Jim Jefferies knows exactly how tricky it was to leave out the club’s all-time leading goalscorer.

“The best finisher I’ve ever worked with”

Speaking exclusively to NTOF, Jefferies claimed: “(It was) Difficult. And there’s one thing I told John, he was the only person I told that would be on the bench early in the week, because I didn’t do it out of sentiment. He’d had a great career at Hearts, the best finisher I’ve ever worked with.

It was goals galore for John Robertson as Hearts. A true Hearts icon and legend. Mandatory Credit: Allsport UK/ALLSPORT

“So to leave somebody (out) like that, Hearts were moving forward. I always felt that having him on the bench, he would be a perfect plan. In the league matches, I’d played him just behind the striker. And his intelligence, he’s got a good football brain, he used it well.”

Robertson was “the perfect plan”

“He’d played well in the league matches. If there was a time in the game I needed to do that, he’d be the perfect plan. It was done because I felt he could do a job and I think he appreciated that.”

Former teammates Craig Levein and John Roberston have a pre-match chat prior to the Scottish Cup semi-final. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

It was fitting that, this year, Hearts had to get the better of John Robertson’s Inverness side to advance to the Scottish Cup final.

Despite not featuring back then against Rangers, ‘Robbo’ will hope that his former side can do the business, against the other half of the Old Firm on Saturday.

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