STEVEN MacLean’s Scottish Cup final memories are vivid for very different reasons. He has won the competition with Rangers and St Johnstone, but has yet to have the full Hampden experience.

The striker wasn’t on the park the first time, while the final wasn’t at the National Stadium second time out.

Now he has a chance to live the dream and lift the silverware at the home of Scottish football when Hearts face Celtic next month.

It is an opportunity MacLean is determined to make the most of as he looks to write his name in cup folklore once again.

“I was involved in one with Rangers as a youngster too but it’s not quite as special as when you play,” MacLean said. “The one with St Johnstone was great and when I saw the picture of that win in the semi-final programme on Saturday it gave me goosebumps. Hopefully we can go and win it with this group of players and create more special memories.

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“It’s had to compare because Hearts are a bigger club with more expectation. It was Saints’ first ever win and I think to be honest each one is special. The days after the St Johnstone win were special. Scenes. Late nights and long days.

“I try not to look back as you want to go and achieve again. But when I look back at times with the boys it was great. I did it with my mates and that’s special.

“I was rattling for a week. I wanted to go out again! When I got there everyone was congratulating me and to be honest you still get people coming up to you years after the event. Look at the Hearts teams that have won cups – they have their own hall of fame dinners.”

MacLean’s part in the victory over Dundee United five years ago will forever be remembered by St Johnstone supporters as they lifted silverware for the first time.

It meant more to the 36-year-old too. This time, he had more than earned his moment of celebration.

MacLean said: “I was a sub in 2003 when big Amo scored with his header to beat Dundee.

“I was actually coming on but Arthur Numan got injured and Kevin Muscat came on instead. That was the year that we won the league on the final day of the season and I think half the boys had been out from the Sunday to the Thursday. That’s probably why I got on the bench.

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“I went up for my medal, but I feel like a bit of a fraud if I haven’t played. That’s maybe harsh, but you know what I mean. When you play it makes you feel more special.

“It would definitely mean more to climb the steps having played this time. Coming to Hearts you hope for opportunities, but finals don’t come around a lot so you have to take them when you get the chance.

“In a cup final – it’s what happens on the day. Anything can happen.”

That final against Dundee saw MacLean and his team-mates go into the game as overwhelming favourites to lift the cup. The odds will be stacked against Hearts, though.

His experience of big matches could prove crucial as Craig Levein’s side look to cause a shock and end Celtic’s dreams of a ninth consecutive domestic triumph. And MacLean hopes it is the Jambos that get to climb the famous stairs and celebrate at Hampden.

“The biggest thing I learned was to play the game and not the occasion,” he said. “Although you are bound to be excited you have to play the game and not be nervous.

“Some players get too excited and after half an hour are knackered because they have gone over the game before the game! You have to chill and enjoy it and do well in the game.

“I don’t know [if winning at Hampden would be better than winning at Parkhead]. Maybe going up the stairs to collect the cup would be more special. Parkhead is a great arena and some would say it’s a better stadium – I’d say that. But Hampden has the history and going up to collect the trophy there would make a difference. Maybe going up the steps to get a trophy would be the one thing I missed on cup final day with Saints.”