Hearts 21st century XI - First centre-back revealed

There was a time when Steven Pressley was synonymous with Heart of Midlothian Football Club.

Friday, 21st June 2019, 3:37 pm
The Steven Pressley salute which Hearts fans became accustomed to. Picture: SNS

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Hearts 21st century XI - Vote for the centre-back (1)

The stomach-turning 'Captain. Leader. Legend.' banner which is draped across the Matthew Harding Stand at Stamford Bridge in honour of John Terry could easily have been replicated years before at Tynecastle in reference to the man dubbed 'Elvis'.

In fact, the centre-back did have how own banner, funded by Hearts fans, which first appeared in the 2005/06 season and proclaimed: 'ONE STEVEN PRESSLEY'.

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The Steven Pressley salute which Hearts fans became accustomed to. Picture: SNS

He was Mr Hearts.

Signed by Jim Jefferies in 1998, he would go on to make more than 332 appearances - 331 of which were starts.

A totemic figure, Craig Levein appointed him captain during the 2001/02 season and it was a duty he carried out to the best of his ability representing the club. He developed a strong affinity with the fans and they appreciated his passion for the club - and propensity to fall over the ball to win free-kicks much to the anger of opposition players and fans.

Pressley played a huge part during the 2005/06 season where he held the team together at points with its disparate parts, interfering owner and three different coaches. If anyone deserved to lift the 2006 Scottish Cup it was him.

The trust instilled in the player allowed him to take part in that infamous training ground press conference alongside Paul Hartley and Craig Gordon - the 'Riccarton 3' - and tell the fans and Scottish football as a whole something which they had all assumed: Hearts weren't functioning properly under Vladimir Romanov.

His subsequent exit wasn't fitting of a player who had given so much to the club and his next destination was concerning as he departed for Celtic.

Then a defining moment came in his return to Tynecastle with his new club. At he end of a win he thumped his chest, as he had done time and again for the Hearts cause, to the Celtic fans.

A pointed message at Romanov but one which has left a sour taste in the mouth of many supporters and, now, in the eyes of some he is persona non grata.

Yet, that has not stopped Pressley gaining 68 per cent of the vote and clinching his place in the Hearts' best XI of the 21st century.