Former Leeds United and Hearts defender Marius Zaliukas has died aged 36.

The Lithuanian defender started his career in his homeland before arriving on UK shores. He featured for Hearts mainly before short spells at Leeds United and Rangers.

Hibernian v Hearts - Scottish Cup Final

The former Hearts and Leeds United man has passed. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell-Pool/Getty Images)

At Tynecastle he is a legend, strongly associated with their best Edinburgh derby win. Zaliukas was captain as the Jambos beat Hearts 5-1 in the 2012 Scottish Cup final.

He played more than 150 times in maroon before his Leeds United and Rangers spells, earning 25 caps for Lithuania. The Lithuanian Football Federation have confirmed his passing.


“Marius Zaliukas represented the Lithuanian national team from 2006 to 2016 and managed to score one goal,” their statement reads. “Marius inspired countless young footballers, and his contribution to Lithuanian football will never be forgotten. On behalf of the Lithuanian football community, we express our deepest condolences to Marius’ family.”

Soccer : UEFA European Championship Qualifier Group C - England v Lithuania

A national hero. (Photo by AMA/Corbis via Getty Images)

The news was announced during Hearts Scottish Cup semi-final against Hibs, which they won 2-1 after extra time.

Hearts put out a statement on social media, saying: “Everyone at Heart of Midlothian Football Club is devastated to learn of the passing of Scottish Cup winning captain Marius Zaliukas.

“A full tribute will follow, but for now we send our love to Marius’ family and friends. That win was for you, skipper.”

Leeds United also added: “The thoughts of everyone at #LUFC are with the friends and family of former defender Marius Zaliukas who has sadly passed away at 36”.

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