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Craig Halkett happy to retire Hearts’ 26 shirt in honour of Marius Zaliukas

By July 2, 2021No Comments

Hearts defender Craig Halkett has retired the number 26 jersey for next season in honour of former captain Marius Zaliukas.

The Lithuanian, who died aged 36 after battling motor neurone disease last year, wore 26 as he led the Jambos to their Scottish Cup final win over Edinburgh rivals Hibernian in 2012.

The new Hearts home kit was launched on Friday and it bears the MND Scotland logo, a charity that plays a crucial role in supporting people living with motor neurone disease in Scotland.

Halkett, who wore the 26 jersey last season, has decided to pay tribute to Zaliukas by retiring the number for the 2021-22 season and will play with number 19 on his back.

The former Livingston player told Hearts TV: “It goes back to last season when we heard the sad news about big Zal’s passing.

“As the season went on, myself and the gaffer spoke about switching numbers but regulations make it hard to do that in the middle of a season.

“Once we came back for the new season we sat down and spoke about it again and I was more than happy to give the number up for the season.

“I think it’s a great tribute to Zal who obviously did a lot for this club, he’s a massive legend here and it was an easy decision for me to make.

“Retiring the 26 jersey for the season obviously ties in with our new front of shirt sponsor, MND Scotland, and I think it’s great for the club to have that on the front of the shirt.

“It helps raise awareness and promote all the good work the charity does.”