Michael Smith reveals he wants new Hearts deal as he targets Scottish Cup

Mr Consistent, Mr Reliable, Mr Versatile. On the face of it, none of those would be the most exciting of Mr Men.

By Joel Sked
Sunday, 13th December 2020, 10:04 pm
Updated Sunday, 13th December 2020, 10:08 pm
Michael Smith wants new Hearts deal
Michael Smith wants new Hearts deal

But that is what Michael Smith is to Hearts and the team wouldn’t have it any other way.

To supporters, the Northern Irishman means a wee bit more to them than that.

Since signing from Peterborough United in 2017, he is one of 81 players to represent Hearts in a competitive match.

No-one has made more than his 116 appearances for the club in that time.

Current team-mates Jamie Walker, Christophe Berra, Steven Naismith, Andy Irving, Lewis Moore and Euan Henderson have all left the club, whether permanently or on loan, and returned.

Smith is someone fans can relate to, a stalwart, a talisman, a lighthouse amongst a raft of ships passing in the night. He is someone supporters trust. Unlike so many others over the years, the 32-year-old hasn’t let them down.

On the pitch he isn’t flashy – but he is committed. His bad games across can be counted on one hand with fingers to spare, rarely falling below a 7/10.

Off the pitch, it wouldn’t surprise fans if he exerted the same trustworthy qualities.

The type of person convincing you everything is going to be okay whilst in the worst bouts of fear. The good Samaritan who would deliver a baby on the hard shoulder with composure. The local hero saving cats from trees.

In Smith, Hearts fans have someone who has shared experiences of the last four years.

He has witnessed plenty but even still he wants more. He wants to continue his connection with the club, the journey with the team and extend his contract beyond the summer when it expires, negotiations having already taken place.

Music to the ears of all Hearts fans.

"Definitely,” was the emphatic answer Smith gave about signing a new deal.

"I'm getting towards the end of my career now and I'm at a club where I enjoy it.

"I don't want to go and float about. You've seen many players before just go anywhere.

"I want to play football, which I am, I want to enjoy it, which I am at the minute so there's no reason why I can't stay here for a few more years."

You could forgive Smith for a glance elsewhere, pondering what colour the grass is on the other side having worked under three mangers and two interim coaches prior to the arrival of Robbie Neilson.

Consistent performances for Hearts, a Northern Ireland international, a goal against Germany, the ability to play a right-back, left-back, centre-back, centre-midfield and no doubt everywhere else, it is understandable there has been interest from elsewhere as revealed in the recent BBC documentary and the potential of one last big pay cheque.

Smith, however, is not just content, but happy and enjoying life at Tynecastle.

He said: "I heard all sorts of rumours but until the manager comes to me and says there's interest from a club, that's between the clubs.

"I'm a Hearts player and I want to be here, I want to play for this club and get them back into the Premiership. That's where it is at the minute.

"Last year was hugely disappointing for us but we've put that behind us.

"Me personally, I'm enjoying it here. Everyone knows I really enjoy it here and I have a great relationship with the gaffer and the coaches. I really enjoy the training, the games and the squad.

"We've got a great rapport this season and I think it's showing on the pitch as well. For me, it'd be great to win the league and the cup final would be the icing on the cake."

Speaking of the Scottish cup final with Celtic, it is going to be a surreal experience for fans, coaches and the players. Last season's final, an empty Hampden Park and only a few days before Christmas.

It is understandable if players have an eye on that already even with Queen of the South around the corner.

However, Smith has a warning to team-mates.

"If you go into games half-hearted you’re going to get hurt, I think you have to go on in and give 100 per cent and play through the game,” he said.

“It is a little weird to have a cup final after just six or seven league games but at the same time it is a fantastic day out, and if the stadium was full it would have been fantastic.

“It will be weird for everyone but if we go out there and win it, it will be massive.

“But at the same time we need to concentrate on this weekend first and then we can look forward to the cup final.

“It’s a strange thing to have thrust upon us, we did well to get through the semi-final and got the reward of this final. But we’ll be looking to go and win that.

“Nothing has been said about the cup final by the management or the players, we had the suit fitting a couple of weeks ago and that’s all that’s happened, really.

“We’re concentrating on Queen of the South."

He added: “Everyone will be looking to impress this weekend to hopefully get a start next weekend. But we’ve said it many times before, the league is the most important thing this year.

“We want to concentrate on that first and hopefully get the win and then there will be the big build up to the cup final.”

Queen of the South first, then Celtic. One game on the quest to become league champions, the second to become club legends. No-one in the squad deserves it more than Michael Smith. Mr Consistent, Mr Reliable, Mr Versatile. Mr Hearts.