It didn’t work. He isn’t bitter. He wants to play in Scotland again. He wishes Hearts nothing but prosperity and admires the work of owner Ann Budge.
Malaury Martin’s two and a half years in Scotland were unfulfilling and he is relieved his time at Tynecastle Park is over. He wants to leave with dignity and class and, perhaps, return to these shores one day.
“Relief is one of the words. I am frustrated I did not have the success I wanted with Hearts,” admitted the French midfielder, 30. He spoke to the Evening News from his home in the south of France having entered talks with clubs there and in Italy.
“I want to have some fun and be in the plans of a manager. I’m not sure what the future holds. I am talking with teams in different countries and I will do what is best for me and my family. I want to go somewhere my football will be appreciated. That’s the most important. I don’t want to make the same mistake and go somewhere that is not for me.
“It might be France or Italy. It could be Scotland if somebody offers a good plan. I like the atmosphere and the fans in Scotland. I want to find a manager who likes to play a bit more football and it can work for me. A bad experience gives you strength. It made me stronger mentally. I think I can still play in Scottish football. There are other countries far away but we are still talking.”
Martin arrived in Edinburgh from Lillestrom, Norway, in January 2017. Former Hearts head coach Ian Cathro wanted him to run his midfield but the player appeared only 21 times in maroon. Craig Levein, Cathro’s successor, told Martin he was not in his plans. Excepting 11 games on loan at Dunfermline, he has not kicked a first-team ball for two years.
Some players would verbally unload their frustration after such an episode but Martin, to his credit, is extremely measured.
“I will never say something bad about the club because they welcomed me so well. I will always remember the feeling of playing and scoring in front of the Hearts fans.
“When I met with Ann Budge, I really appreciated how she understood my situation. She manages the club very well and what she has done over the last five years is brilliant. It will never be for me to give a bad opinion about the club. It did not work for me but the working conditions there are exceptional and the fans are exceptional.”
The three-and-a-half year Hearts contract Martin signed was not supposed to expire next summer. He agreed to shorten it by six months upon being loaned to Dunfermline last August. The decision to leave now should give him more options. “The club asked me and, because they had made a big effort to continue to pay my salary, I made an effort to drop six months off my contract,” he explained.
“Now I think it is best for me to take my career in my hands. In summer, you have more time to find the right team and start again. It has been a bit strange. I didn’t expect to be in this situation.”
At the back of his mind, hope long persisted that he might force Levein into a rethink, much like Ryan Edwards. “I’m really happy for my friend, Ryan. He changed the opinion of the manager and showed he can do a great job. That was my idea when Craig Levein told me I was not in his plans, but it did not work for me like it worked for Ryan. Now I must look forward.”
A former Monaco player, Martin was recently training at their La Turbie complex with their third team. He left Edinburgh with a smile on his face thanks to a few kind touches from Hearts followers.
“I received a lot of nice messages from fans on text, Twitter and Instagram. I really appreciate all of them. There were obviously some which are not so nice but most were very positive. I want to say ‘thank you’ for that.”