Hearts retire No.26 shirt for 2021/22 season in tribute to former captain Marius Zaliukas
Hearts have decided to retire the No.26 shirt for the upcoming 2021/22 season in tribute to former captain Marius Zaliukas.
The Lithuanian centre-back, who lifted the Scottish Cup after the famous final victory over Hibs, sadly passed away last year after a battle with motor neurone disease. Coincidentally, Hearts’ players were informed of the news as they prepared to take on their Edinburgh rivals at Hampden in the Scottish Cup semi-final, the first time the sides had met at the national stadium since 2012.
Current centre-back Craig Halkett held the number last season but was more than happy to give it up for this campaign in memory of a club legend.
He told Hearts TV: "Before the Hibs game we found out the sad news with the passing of Big Zal. We didn’t talk about it at the time but as the season went on we had it in the back of our heads, me, the gaffer, Gogs [the kitman], had discussions about doing it.
“Once we came back for the new season we sat down and spoke about it. I was more than happy to give the number up. It’s a great tribute to Zal. He did so much for this club and is a massive legend to fans. I just thought it was the right thing to do.”
The news comes on the day Hearts unveiled their new home strip, which will display the logo for MND Scotland.
Halkett added: “I think it’s great for the club to have that on the front of our shirts. It’s great to raise awareness and ties in with the sadness of Zal’s passing.”