Marius Žaliūkas (10 November 1983 – 31 October 2020) was a Lithuanian professional footballer who played primarily as a centre back, but also played as a defensive midfielder.
|Full name||Marius Žaliūkas|
|Date of birth||10 November 1983|
|Place of birth||Kaunas, Lithuanian SSR, Soviet Union|
|Date of death||31 October 2020(aged 36)|
|Place of death||Kaunas, Lithuania|
|Height||1.90 m (6 ft 3 in)|
|2004–2005||→ FK Šilutė (loan)||15||(0)|
|2006–2007||→ Heart of Midlothian (loan)||27||(2)|
|2007–2013||Heart of Midlothian||165||(9)|
|*Club domestic league appearances and goals|
Žaliūkas played in his homeland for Inkaras Kaunas, FBK Kaunas and FK Šilutė before joining Hearts of the Scottish Premier League in 2006, initially on loan. He spent seven years there, playing 193 games and scoring 13 goals, and captaining the team to win the Scottish Cup in 2012. He then had spells in the Football League Championship with Leeds United and the Scottish Championship with Rangers, before retiring back in Lithuania with Žalgiris in 2016.
At international level, Žaliūkas played 25 times for the Lithuania national team between 2005 and 2016, scoring once. He died at the age of 36 from motor neurone disease.
Žaliūkas started his career with Inkaras Kaunas before joining city rivals FBK Kaunas in 2004. He spent the 2004/05 season on loan to FK Šilutė before returning to Kaunas.
Heart of MidlothianEdit
Žaliūkas was loaned to Hearts from FBK Kaunas in August 2006. He was one of many Lithuanians signed by owner Vladimir Romanov, who also owned Kaunas. Žaliūkas made his competitive debut on 26 August in a 4–1 victory over Inverness Caledonian Thistle, and scored his first goal for the Tynecastle club to secure a 2–2 draw at St Mirren on 2 December. His only other goal of the season came on 1 April 2007, the only goal in the 81st minute of an Edinburgh Derby win at Hibernian.
Further to his impressive start to the 2008–09 season, it was reported by BBC Sport that major clubs in Moscow were willing to sign the defender. Žaliūkas was sent off four times during the 2008–09 season, although one red card was later rescinded. The third of these dismissals came in a Scottish Cup tie against Falkirk, when he punched Falkirk's Carl Finnigan twice in the face. Manager Csaba László reacted angrily to Žaliūkas, and told him that he needs to change his attitude. Two of the red cards came at Pittodrie against Aberdeen in separate matches. He ended speculation about his future by signing a new contract with Hearts, which ran until December 2010.
In July 2009, following the departures of captain Robbie Neilson and vice-captain Christos Karipidis to Leicester City and AC Omonia respectively, László named Žaliūkas as one of the candidates to take the club captaincy, along with midfielders Michael Stewart and Laryea Kingston. László stated that despite Žaliūkas' poor disciplinary record, he would be willing to trust the defender with the responsibility of being a leader. On 13 August 2009, Stewart was named club captain with Žaliūkas as vice-captain, although László stressed that they would share many of the responsibilities that come with the captaincy and said "I really have two captains".
After Stewart left the club to join Gençlerbirliği, Žaliūkas was appointed club captain by new manager Jim Jefferies. Soon afterwards, however, Žaliūkas' future at Hearts was put in doubt due to failed contract negotiations, which resulted in him being left out of the team. However, in November 2010 he signed a permanent contract, ending his previous loan agreement from Kaunas, which committed him to the club until the end of the 2013 season. Towards the end of the 2010–11 season he was once again left out of the team on the orders of club owner Vladimir Romanov. On 19 May 2012, Zaliukas lifted the Scottish Cup with Hearts after a 5–1 win over Edinburgh rivals Hibernian.
Žaliukas was released by Hearts during the 2013 summer transfer window, after the club had entered administration. After leaving Hearts, Zaliukas joined Rangers on trial. He was offered a contract there, but he rejected it to pursue other options. After turning down a deal at Rangers, Žaliūkas joined Queens Park Rangers (QPR) on trial in the hope of earning a permanent contract. However, when the club delayed a possible contract offer, Žaliūkas joined Leeds United on trial and QPR instead signed Oguchi Onyewu.
In October 2013, Žaliūkas began training with Leeds United for a trial spell, the club picking him for a development squad match, amid rumours that they would offer a contract. On 26 October it was announced by the club that the defender had signed a permanent contract until the end of the season. Žaliūkas made his Leeds debut against Yeovil Town on 1 November 2013, Žaliūkas rescued a point for Leeds in a 3–3 draw against Watford on 7 December by blocking a goal bound effort in the last minute of the game. Žaliūkas' impressive performances during the absence of injured defender Scott Wootton meant Žaliūkas became one of the first names on the teamsheet under Leeds manager Brian McDermott as part of three centre backs with Tom Lees and Jason Pearce in Leeds' 3–5–2 formation.
In December 2013, Žaliūkas was the victim of straight red card challenges in successive games, first Marcus Tudgay was sent off for Barnsley on 21 December, and then Kirk Broadfoot for Blackpool on 26 December was sent off for a bad challenge on Žaliūkas. On 31 December 2013, Žaliūkas' impressive form was rewarded when he signed an extended and improved contract at Leeds until the end of the 2014–15 season. However, after a series of individual mistakes in the 6–0 defeat against Sheffield Wednesday, Žaliūkas lost his place in the Leeds United team. On 30 June 2014, Žaliūkas was left out of Leeds' two-week pre-season training camp to Santa Cristina in Italy. His contract was terminated by mutual consent a day later.
On 3 July 2014, after leaving Leeds United, Žaliūkas joined Rangers on trial. He later signed a two-year contract with the Scottish Championship club that month. After making 28 appearances, along with scoring two goals, Žaliūkas left Rangers by mutual consent on 27 August 2015. He played his last match in a pre-season friendly against Burnley.
In 2016 Žaliūkas played for Lithuanian club FK Žalgiris. He retired from football in January 2017.
Žaliūkas made his debut for the Lithuania national team in 2005. He scored his first and only international goal against Slovakia on 7 September 2012 in a 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier. Žaliūkas' last game for the national side came in 2016.
Personal life and deathEdit
Žaliūkas was married to Nora Žaliūkė. They had a son, also named Marius, who was born in March 2020.
According to Lithuanian Football Federation president Tomas Danilevičius, Žaliūkas was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 2013. On 31 October 2020, the Lithuanian Football Federation confirmed that Žaliūkas had died at the age of 36. After a mass at St. George the Martyr Church, Kaunas, Žaliūkas was buried on 5 November 2020.
Hearts retired the number 26 jersey in Žaliūkas's honour for 2021–22, while making MND Scotland their sponsor for two years.
|Club||Season||League||National Cup||League Cup||Europe||Other||Total|
|Heart of Midlothian||2006–07||Scottish Premiership||27||2||1||0||1||0||0||0||–||29||2|
|Heart of Midlothian||2007–08||Scottish Premiership||26||1||0||0||2||0||0||0||–||28||1|
- Scores and results list Lithuania's goal tally first, score column indicates score after each Žaliūkas goal.
|1||7 September 2012||LFF Stadium, Vilnius||Slovakia||1–1||1–1||2014 FIFA World Cup qualification|
Heart of Midlothian
- Scottish Premier League Player of the Month: December 2010
- ^ a b "Marius Zaliukas: Former Hearts & Rangers defender dead at age of 36". BBC Sport. 31 October 2020. Retrieved 31 October 2020.
- ^ a b Kaunas' Zaliukas signs for Hearts, BBC Sport, 15 August 2006.
- ^ a b c d McPartlin, Patrick (31 October 2020). "Marius Zaliukas, former Hearts captain and Rangers defender, dies at 36". Edinburgh Evening News. Retrieved 1 November 2020.
- ^ "Hearts add to Lithuanian legion". UEFA. 7 January 2007. Retrieved 19 February 2022.
- ^ "Hearts 4-1 Inverness CT". BBC Sport. 26 August 2006. Retrieved 1 November 2020.
- ^ "Maroon memories: St Mirren 2-2 Hearts, December 2, 2006". Edinburgh Evening News. 14 July 2012. Retrieved 1 November 2020.
- ^ Lindsay, Clive (1 April 2007). "Hibernian 0-1 Hearts". BBC Sport. Retrieved 19 February 2022.
- ^ Zaliukas considers Hearts future, BBC Sport, 31 December 2008.
- ^ Laszlo blast for banned Zaliukas, BBC Sport, 10 February 2009.
- ^ Zaliukas extends Tynecastle stay, BBC Sport, 9 May 2009.
- ^ Hearts trio vying for captaincy, BBC Sport, 8 July 2009.
- ^ Michael and Marius appointed Archived 16 August 2009 at the Wayback Machine, heartsfc.co.uk, 13 August 2009.
- ^ a b "Marius Zaliukas's Hearts future in doubt over contract". BBC Sport. 1 September 2010. Retrieved 1 September 2010.
- ^ "Zaliukas to miss rest of season". BBC Sport. 13 February 2013. Retrieved 1 November 2020.
- ^ "Hearts owner Romanov told manager to leave out Zaliukas". BBC News. 8 May 2011. Retrieved 8 May 2011.
- ^ Hibernian 1 - 5 Hearts, BBC Sport, 19 May 2012.
- ^ "Rangers: Marius Zaliukas turns down contract offer". BBC Sport. 13 September 2013. Retrieved 13 September 2013.
- ^ "Zaliukas impresses Harry Redknapp at QPR training". The Scotsman. 1 October 2013. Retrieved 1 October 2013.
- ^ "QPR set to decide next move as Leeds United eye defender". West London Sport. 21 October 2013. Retrieved 21 October 2013.
- ^ "Redknapp not ruling out Zaliukas deal despite Leeds United interest". West London Sport. 18 October 2013. Retrieved 18 October 2013.
- ^ Clearance granted for defender, Leeds United, 22 October 2013.
- ^ "Marius Signs Up". Leeds United. 26 October 2013. Retrieved 26 October 2013.
- ^ "Leeds United 2-0 Yeovil Town". BBC Sport.
- ^ "Leeds United 3 Watford 3: Honours even after an Elland Road epic". Yorkshire Evening Post. 7 December 2013. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
- ^ "Blackpool v Leeds United: Murphy out and Zaliukas is a doubt". Yorkshire Evening Post. 23 December 2013. Retrieved 23 December 2013.
- ^ "The REAL reason behind Leeds United's promotion push". Here Is The City. 24 December 2013. Retrieved 24 December 2013.
- ^ "DERBY STALEMATE AT ELLAND ROAD". Leeds United A.F.C. 21 December 2013. Retrieved 21 December 2013.
- ^ "Lee Peltier goal seals away point for United..." Leeds United A.F.C. 26 December 2013. Retrieved 26 December 2013.
- ^ "ZALIUKAS SIGNS NEW DEAL : Defender rewarded with improved and extended contract..." Leeds United A.F.C. 31 December 2013. Retrieved 31 December 2013.
- ^ "MISERY AT WEDNESDAY". Leeds United AFC. 11 January 2014.
- ^ "PRE-SEASON: PLAYERS ARRIVE IN ITALY". Leeds United. 30 June 2014. Retrieved 30 June 2014.
- ^ "Leeds United terminate contract of defender Marius Zaliukas". Leeds United. 1 July 2014. Retrieved 1 July 2014.
- ^ "Rangers sign central defender Marius Zaliukas". BBC Sport. BBC. 11 July 2014.
- ^ "Marius Zaliukas latest to leave Ibrox". BBC Sport. BBC. 28 August 2015.
- ^ Pilcher, Ross (31 October 2020). "Sad news as former Hearts captain dies at 36 after suffering from MND". Edinburgh Live. Retrieved 1 November 2020.
- ^ a b c "Skaudi netektis: Anapilin išėjo buvęs futbolo rinktinės gynėjas M.Žaliūkas". 15 Min (in Lithuanian). 31 October 2020. Retrieved 1 November 2020.
- ^ October 2020, PA Staff 31 (31 October 2020). "Former Hearts, Leeds and Rangers defender Marius Zaliukas dies, aged 36". fourfourtwo.com. Retrieved 1 November 2020.
- ^ "Hearts dedicate win over Hibernian to Marius Zaliukas". Sports Mole. 1 November 2020. Retrieved 19 February 2022.
- ^ McLauchlin, Brian (2 July 2021). "Hearts retire number 26 shirt for season to honour Zaliukas". BBC Sport. Retrieved 19 February 2022.
- ^ "Games played by Marius Žaliūkas in 2006/2007". Soccerbase. Centurycomm.
- ^ "Games played by Marius Žaliūkas in 2007/2008". Soccerbase. Centurycomm.
- ^ "Games played by Marius Žaliūkas in 2008/2009". Soccerbase. Centurycomm.
- ^ "Games played by Marius Žaliūkas in 2009/2010". Soccerbase. Centurycomm.
- ^ a b Marius Žaliūkas at Soccerway
- ^ "Games played by Marius Žaliūkas in 2010/2011". Soccerbase. Centurycomm.
- ^ "Games played by Marius Žaliūkas in 2011/2012". Soccerbase. Centurycomm.
- ^ "Games played by Marius Žaliūkas in 2012/2013". Soccerbase. Centurycomm.
- ^ "Games played by Marius Žaliūkas in 2013/2014". Soccerbase. Centurycomm.
- ^ "Games played by Marius Žaliūkas in 2014/2015". Soccerbase. Centurycomm.
- ^ Media, P. A. (31 October 2020). "Hearts dedicate Scottish Cup semi-final win to former captain Marius Zaliukas". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 November 2020.
- ^ "Summary - A Lyga - Lithuania". Soccerway. Retrieved 1 November 2020.
- ^ a b "Lithuania - VMFD Žalgiris Vilnius". Soccerway. Retrieved 1 November 2020.
- ^ "December 2010 Award". Archived from the original on 17 January 2011. Retrieved 3 March 2011.
- Marius Žaliūkas at Soccerbase
- Marius Žaliūkas at National-Football-Teams.com
- London Hearts profile