They knew Marius Zaliukas better than most people – and former Hearts men Danny Grainger and Andy Webster believe today’s cup final between their ex-side and Celtic should be played in his memory.
Zaliukas sadly passed away on the day of the Scottish Cup semi-finals earlier this season. He had captained Hearts to one of their greatest results, a 5-1 win over Hibs in the 2012 Scottish Cup final. Now the Jambos look for similar success against Celtic.
They face the Hoops in the 2020 final and players will remember Zaliukas, wearing his number 26 on their shorts. Former teammate of his Grainger says a cup win today would be fitting.
“Every single day in the dressing room he was just so happy,” Grainger told NTOF. “He bounced around. It didn’t matter what day it was, he was bouncing about like the Duracell bunny.
“That was Zal. He was a laugh but he did have to go through a lot at Hearts, with everything that was going on off the field. It’s tragic what has happened to him.
“Fingers crossed they can collect another memory for Zal.”
Webster, who played alongside Zaliukas in the heart of defence, shares similar sentiment. He says victory would be the best way to pay respect “To win the cup would be a fitting tribute.
“I think it would be quite poignant if Hearts were able to do that. He will be at the forefront of their minds before the match before real focus has to come to make sure the players have the right mindset.
“Hopefully it’s a positive outcome and everyone enjoys their Sunday.”