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By ESPN Staff

Defender Heffernan joins Heart

Central Coast defender Dean Heffernan has signed a multi-year deal to join new A-League club Melbourne Heart.

Heffernan, 29, is the new franchise's third signing, after Gold Coast's Kristian Sarkies and Newcastle's Matt Thompson agreed terms earlier this week.

Although Heffernan made his name as a left-back with the Mariners, Heart coach John van't Schip plans to use him more in a central defensive position.

"Dean is a modern-day defender, with great distribution and an excellent physical presence on the field," said van't Schip.

"He is tall, extremely mobile but also technically very sound, which is shown by his ability to move into attack and contribute and create goals."

Heffernan scored eight goals in 23 games from left-back in the inaugural A-League Season for Central Coast before being loaned to German Bundesliga club Nuremberg.

After returning to Australia, he was a standout in Central Coast's 2009 Asian Champions League campaign.

Heffernan made his Socceroos' debut in the Asian Cup qualifier against Indonesia earlier this year.

"While Dean has been used in the past as a left-sided player, our intention is to use him as a central defender," said van't Schip.

"There are a number of players at the top level who have moved centrally as they matured and become great on-field leaders.

"With his athleticism and power, he is able to compete with strikers of any type and with his technical quality, he is comfortable enough to keep possession and play the ball out of defence, which is the way we want to play."

The Heart join the A-League for the 2010-11 season.

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