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.

Hearts face Celtic this afternoon. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images)

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.

25/09/12 SCOTTISH COMMUNITIES LEAGUE CUP 3RD RND.HEARTS v LIVINGSTON (3-1).TYNECASTLE - EDINBURGH.Hearts' Marius Zaliukas (left) is hailed by fellow scorer Danny Grainger after putting the home side back in front

Fond memories. (Photo by Lorraine Hill/SNS Group via Getty Images)

“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.

23/08/12 UEFA EUROPA LEAGUE PLAY-OFF 1ST LEG.HEARTS v LIVERPOOL.TYNECASTLE - EDINBURGH.Hearts captain Marius Zaliukas (right) gives encouragement to team-mate Andy Webster after his own goal

Focus will have to turn to the game.(Photo by Craig Williamson/SNS Group via Getty Images)

“Hopefully it’s a positive outcome and everyone enjoys their Sunday.”

A full conversation with 2012 Scottish Cup winners Danny Grainger and Andy Webster ahead of Celtic v Hearts is available on YouTube.
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