Christophe Berra has vowed to silence the doubters after officially bringing the curtain down on a decade at Hearts.
Berra, 36, officially departed Tynecastle this week and is relishing the prospect of a fresh start and a change of scenery at Raith Rovers, working under his old Gorgie coach John McGlynn.
For a man who played more than 241 games for the Jambos and captained the club over two spells, his exit — initially announced in March — was relatively low-key, owing much to the fact he latterly fell out of favour with boss Robbie Neilson.
Berra is acutely aware that some onlookers have swiftly written him off; too old, the legs have gone. But the experienced defender has heard it all before and is ready to make fools of the naysayers.
“People are quick to write you off,” Berra told The Courier in his first interview since leaving Hearts. “You hear the usual ‘you are getting older, you are on the decline’ — but I’ve got thick skin and belief.
“I’ve been through this before in my career and I’ve never shied away from it. I always get my head down, work hard and do my talking on the training ground and on a match-day.
“No-one who knows me would ever question my character or determination and, if things aren’t going well, I’ll never chuck it. That’s not me.
“I’ve played more than 600 club games and represented my country 41 times so I’ve done okay, and I’m coming to Raith to start games and do well. If that proves a few people wrong, then so be it.”
Berra’s relationship with Neilson became strained during the final months of the campaign and a mutual parting of the ways was inevitable during the early part of 2021.
However, Berra — who displayed the same commitment in training despite being overlooked in the final weeks of the campaign — has no desire to dwell on the negatives.
He has too much respect for the club, its staff and the Gorgie faithful.
“I am gutted I didn’t get an opportunity to say a proper goodbye to the supporters and I hope I get the opportunity to do that at some point in the future,” continued Berra, who will cease coaching the academy kids at Hearts.
“I’m disappointed with the way it ended and the fact I wasn’t involved in the last five games. But I can say that wasn’t down to me or anything I did.
“I love the club. I started my career at Hearts and had many good times.
“There were ups and downs; bumps and bruises. But I made some amazing friends and captaining the club over two spells is something I’m incredibly proud of.
“That is football and I’ve been involved in this game long enough to know that. I’m not going to be bitter about the way things panned out, because the club was a massive part of my life.”