HEARTS captain Danny Wilson will leave Tynecastle this summer after activating a clause in his contract that allows him to depart the club at the end of the season for no fee.
The defender, pictured, who joined the club on loan from Liverpool in January 2013, met manager Robbie Neilson and director of football Craig Levein during the week to inform them of his decision.
Suspended for the forthcoming Cowdenbeath game, he will end his Hearts career by lifting the Championship trophy in front of the Hearts support after the final match of the campaign, against his former club Rangers on 2 May.
The 23-year-old Scotland international was recently linked with a £400,000 move to Celtic but it is understood that the contract fine print means he will leave for nothing, although no formal link-up with the Parkhead club or any other interested party has yet been agreed.
The centre-back has been a virtual ever-present since he joined the Edinburgh club, resurrecting his playing career after he failed to break through at Anfield. He was offered a permanent deal by the Gorgie outfit as soon as his deal expired at Liverpool.
The move was initially blocked by the league authorities after Hearts plunged into administration, preventing them registering new players. But the league backtracked, allowing then manager Gary Locke to appoint Wilson captain, aged just 21, and letting him join his team-mates in trying to keep the club in the top flight.
When a points deduction took its toll and led to Hearts’ relegation, it was assumed that he would move to pastures new but, while other experienced first-team players such as Jamie MacDonald, Jamie Hamill and Ryan Stevenson were moved on by Neilson when he took the managerial reins last summer, he was able to retain the services of the captain.
One of the players who suffered the financial cost of administration and who dug deep to buy shares and season tickets as well as attending supporters’ fundraising rallies, Wilson said he wanted to help the club back to the top flight.
He set the tone for the campaign with a goal to help Hearts to victory in the opening fixture against the team who were considered their main title rivals, Rangers, and, having wrapped up automatic promotion and the league in commanding fashion with seven games left, he has now opted to try something new.