The Keith-born centre-back played for three years at Tynecastle Park between 1964 and 1967. He had been suffering from illness but attended Hearts’ recent home game against Livingston, where he received a warm welcome and watched a 3-0 win.
Rutherford was due to turn 75 this Saturday but the club confirmed his passing with the following statement:
“Heart of Midlothian Football Club is saddened to learn of the passing of former player Derek Rutherford. Derek featured for the Jambos between 1964 and 1967. A full tribute to Derek will be forthcoming, in the meantime our thoughts are with his family and friends.”
Rutherford also represented Leicester City during his playing days and still remained active through walking football into his 70s. He was a reliable centre-back who also featured at right-back for Hearts after being signed by legendary former manager Tommy Walker.