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Steven Naismith announces retirement as professional footballer

:Headline: Steven Naismith announces retirement as professional footballer:
The 34-year-old is the club's new football development manager.
Sports Mole

Steven Naismith has announced his retirement as a player after being appointed as Hearts' football development manager.

Former Scotland, Rangers and Everton forward Naismith, 34, who won 51 caps for his country, made his professional debut for Kilmarnock 17 years ago.

Hearts said on their official website: "Steven Naismith has been appointed as football development manager by Heart of Midlothian Football Club after deciding to call time on his playing career.

"The former Scotland forward, capped 51 times for the national team, hangs up his boots following a glittering and trophy-laden career, and now enters a new chapter that will see him forge the path of Hearts' brightest young talents."

Naismith joined Hearts for two loan spells between 2018 and 2019 before signing a permanent deal at Tynecastle, and scored 29 goals in 90 appearances.

He made 24 appearances in all competitions for Hearts this season as the club won promotion after securing the Scottish Championship title.

Naismith started out with Kilmarnock and won three Scottish titles, the Scottish Cup and two Scottish League Cups with Rangers and also had spells at Everton and Norwich.

He said: "It is always a big decision for any player to hang up his boots, but I feel the time is now right to make a transformation from playing into a football development role.

"There are many people for me to thank for the opportunities of the past which I will do personally, but I feel today is about the future.

"I would, however, like to thank the chairman Ann (Budge), the chief executive Andrew (McKInlay), the sporting director Joe (Savage) and especially the manager Robbie (Neilson) for their help in making this transition as smooth as possible.

"A special thanks also has to go to the supporters of Hearts for welcoming me from day one and making me feel part of this special club."

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