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By ESPN Staff

Sergio replaces Jefferies at Hearts

Hearts have appointed former Sporting Lisbon coach Paulo Sergio as their new manager.

Jim Jefferies was sacked on Monday with reports quickly emerging that Sergio was being lined up to take over at Tynecastle.

And the 43-year-old Portuguese who managed Sporting for six months last season, was duly appointed on Tuesday morning with the club confirming Jefferies has rejected an offer to become director of football.

Jefferies told the club's official website: "Even though I'm disappointed at leaving the club and everyone knows my strong connection to Hearts, I'd like to thank the club for the opportunity myself and Billy have had in the last 18 months.

"I also appreciate the offer to develop in a new role at Hearts, however it has perhaps come too soon and it might be something that I would consider at a later date.

"I want to wish the players and staff all the best for the forthcoming season and I'll certainly be hoping the boys can do the business on Thursday night.''

The Hearts players were reportedly told by much-maligned owner Vladimir Romanov on Monday that a manager "with European experience'' was needed at the club and they were due to report to Tynecastle on Tuesday to meet their new boss - whose Sporting side were knocked out of the Europa League in the last 32 by Rangers in February.

Romanov, whose seven-year tenure at Tynecastle is littered with managerial casualties including John Robertson, George Burley, Graham Rix, Valdas Ivanauskas and Anatoliy Korobochka, was at Tynecastle on Sunday to see Hearts lose 1-0 to Dundee United in the Scottish Premier League.

The Jambos are without a win since the 3-2 defeat of St Mirren on March 19 - a run of form which is reported to have influenced Romanov's decision.

However, Hearts started the season with a 1-1 draw against Rangers at Ibrox in the SPL and followed it up with a 1-1 draw against Paks in the first leg of their Europa League qualifier in Hungary.

Director Sergejus Fedotovas said: "We would like to thank Jim for his service to the club. He has supported us in our efforts to develop the team and the wider squad and we have enjoyed a good working relationship.

"The club did offer Jim another senior position but we understand his reasons for not accepting this and we wish him well for his future career beyond Hearts.''

Sergio paid tribute to Jefferies and described himself as "a humble guy'' eager for success at Tynecastle.

Sergio told the club's official website: "I'm very much excited and proud to be at Hearts. I respect a lot the work of Jim, his past, but now the directors have invited me to work at the club It's an honour for me and I'm going to do all my best to be successful at Tynecastle.

"I had an ambition to come and work in British football. I'm happy. I don't think that I know everything. I am a humble guy and I sure am going to learn too. I hope to get good results and good football for Hearts.

"I really liked the first contact with the group, with the players, with all the people here working for Hearts. We're not going to change a lot of things the team has been doing (on Thursday). We started working this morning and we're going to try to begin to pass our ideas to the players from the first moment.

"We know it's an important game for us and we're just thinking about winning the game.''

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