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By ESPN Staff
Dec 9, 2006

Skipper Pressley leaves Hearts after Romanov row

Hearts captain Steven Pressley has agreed to part company with the club with immediate effect.

The Scotland international revealed 'significant unrest' within the dressing room under the regime of majority shareholder Vladimir Romanov in October.

But the 33-year-old was omitted from the squad for the Bank of Scotland Premier League draw at Falkirk on November 13 amid reports he had uncovered a plot to strip him of the captaincy.

The defender returned to the squad as an unused substitute for the home defeat by Rangers the following weekend where around 200 supporters demonstrated against Romanov after the 1-0 loss.

Pressley returned to the starting line-up for the goalless draw at Inverness Caledonian Thistle a fortnight ago.

But he was omitted from the squad again last week as the Jambos drew 2-2 at St Mirren.

Now, after over eight years at Tynecastle, Pressley has left the club.

Pressley said in statement: 'I have enjoyed my time at Tynecastle enormously and will be sad to leave the club.

'Particularly, I would like to thank the fans for their support during my time at the club.

'I wish the club, the management, and my fellow players, the coaches and the fans every success in the future.'

Pressley joined Hearts in the summer of 1998 after leaving Dundee United and lifted the Tennent's Scottish Cup for the Jambos in May and helped the team claim a Champions League qualifying berth this season.

The centre-half has been a mainstay of the team since joining the Edinburgh club.

Hearts head coach Valdas Ivanauskas said: 'It has been a difficult few weeks for both the club and Steven.

'We recognise the tremendous contribution that Steven has made both as a player and as captain at Tynecastle over the years and we wish him all the best for the future.'

Asked if he will be looking for a Scottish skipper to replace Pressley, Ivanauskas said: 'Yes, because we have Scottish players who are special players, it is important for the club and the supporters.'The Scottish Professional Footballers Association have been advising Pressley throughout his dispute with Hearts.

But SPFA secretary Fraser Wishart believes the statement will be the end of the issue as far the defender is concerned.

He said: 'I don't think we will hear anything more from Steven on this matter.

'He feels enough has been said. It is a relief from the pressure of the past five or six weeks.

'He wants to get on with his life and his career and find a new club.'