Hearts legend Mariel Kaney retires after "laying the foundations" for their current success

Hearts captain and long-time servant Mariel Kaney, who has announced her retirement, helped “lay the foundations” for the club’s recent success.
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That’s the view assistant manager Sean Burt after the 31-year-old, a Scottish government lawyer, announced on social media her decision to hang up her boots. “I am looking forward to spending some time with my lovely family and friends who have supported me throughout my career and whom I have neglected over the last two decades and enjoying what ‘retirement’ has to offer,” she wrote. “New adventures await.”

Kaney had spells at Hibs and Spartans before joining Hearts in 2018. The experienced midfielder was crucial to the club’s initial rise, helping them win the SWPL2 title in the 2019 season before they established themselves as a top division side. Speaking after news of her retirement broke, Burt praised Kaney for everything she has done for the club.

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“We currently have the heights of fourth place in the league and we are having a good season”, Burt told the Edinburgh Evening News. “But ultimately the players that were here last season are pivotal for laying that foundation and springboard for us this season. If we were dwindling down there, we wouldn’t have that springboard for this season. I am really thankful for everything she has given to the club on and off the pitch.”

Outside of football, Kaney’s schedule has been just as hectic. In the day she works as a solicitor for the Scottish government and last year was named the winner of the Law Society of Scotland’s In-House Rising Star Award. “I found myself in the unusual position of straddling two worlds, living a life in law and a life in football,” she wrote. “It was a different path to many and one I am proud to have walked for all these years.”

Kaney is also a trustee at the Big Hearts foundation, which aims to give people safe and fulfilling lives. With Hearts now training four to five times a week, she will be able to reclaim some time.

“First and foremost, she is a good football player, but she is an even better person”, Burt added. “She is a great human being and she’s been fantastic, on and off the pitch, since I have arrived at the club. That’s testament to her character. She has decided that she has her life away from football and that’s going to take priority. That’s fair enough and she deserves that.”

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Hearts have had a brilliant start to 2023, progressing into the fifth round of the Scottish Cup as well as earning a historic point against reigning champions Rangers. This Sunday will be a different challenge as they travel north to play a revitalised Aberdeen at the Balmoral Stadium. Burt is wary.

Mariel Kaney captained Hearts to a semi-final in the Scottish Cup last season. Credit: Mark Scates / SNS Group.Mariel Kaney captained Hearts to a semi-final in the Scottish Cup last season. Credit: Mark Scates / SNS Group.
Mariel Kaney captained Hearts to a semi-final in the Scottish Cup last season. Credit: Mark Scates / SNS Group.

“It’ll be a tough one”, he stated. “Aberdeen got a win at the weekend and a win in the cup before that. Quite a bit has been made out of them not living up to their expectations of last season. They have certainly had a real upturn in form, which makes them really dangerous opponents for us. It is really important we don’t undo all our good work. We want to use it as a springboard for the second half of the season.”

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