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Rafa relishes rivalry!

Posted on 18 August 2011  - 12:00

Rafael van der Vaart is relishing his first experience of an Anglo-Scottish encounter and expects a passionate atmosphere at Tynecastle tonight.

Rafael van der Vaart is relishing his first experience of an Anglo-Scottish encounter and expects a passionate atmosphere at Tynecastle tonight.

The Dutchman is fit again and in the squad for our Europa League Play-Off first leg with Hearts and cannot wait to step out in front of a packed house.

He said: “In Holland, we love to watch English and Scottish football. British people love football, similar to the Dutch, and the passion is clear to see.

“If you play them at their home you can always get into trouble against them and the fans are fantastic people. Their stadiums are always sold out for these matches.

“This is the first time I will have been involved in a game between clubs from Scotland and England and everyone says it's very special.”

And Rafa knows we must be on our toes in this our first competitive game of the 2011-2012 season, with Hearts already six games into their campaign.

Last season’s top goalscorer also insists the Europa League is a competition we are in to win – making tonight’s clash especially important.

He added: “This is our first game and we'll be telling each other we must be sharp because we're facing a good team, especially at home. It will be an interesting game.

“As a player, I love to play during the week, whether it's in the Champions League or the Europa League. This is another competition and the Europa League would be a nice tournament to win.”