The 27-year-old will leave the club he has supported since childhood in two weeks’ time after the showpiece all-Edinburgh final. Hearts revealed earlier this week that Black’s contract would not be renewed and he is now forced to consider pastures new.
The timing of the announcement has raised eyebrows but the Evening News has learned that Black’s current contract included an option clause for Hearts to extend the deal by a further 12 months. However, that had to be invoked by April 30, hence the statement that he was being released.
The player is now completely focused on Hearts’ remaining two league matches against St Johnstone and Celtic before the biggest derby in history with Hibs. Winning the Cup at Hampden would allow Black a fitting departure from Tynecastle.
“There’s no right time to announce something like this, whether it’s before the cup final or after. But I’ll be professional about it, work hard and keep my head down,” he said. “It has been magic here and to get to the Scottish Cup final and be so near to lifting the trophy is brilliant. I just hope we can finish on a high and win it. This year has been the highlight of my time at Hearts. Getting to the Scottish Cup final is the best achievement I have ever had in the game and I want to win it.”
England remains the most likely destination for Black next season. “Every player’s ambition is to play in England at the highest level, so hopefully I will get a few opportunities. If the chance came along I would definitely look at it.
“I have improved as a player at Hearts. It helps with the quality in this squad. It makes me play better and I’m delighted by how I’ve progressed here.
“It’s disappointing to be leaving but there are new challenges ahead and I hope to kick on. It’s going to be a sad time walking away but you just have to pick yourself up and enjoy what is coming up next.”