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Steven Naismith signs four-year deal with Hearts

Steven Naismith has pledged the rest of his playing career to Hearts after being excited by the club’s quest to win trophies.

The former Kilmarnock, Rangers and Everton forward has signed a four-year contract after his ties to Norwich finally ended.

The 32-year-old spent 18 months on loan at Tynecastle and is keen to keep passing on his experience to the younger players and help the team grow.

The Scotland international told Hearts TV: “I think everybody knew it was inevitable that it would happen. A few things let it drag on. But every chat I had with the manager and (owner) Ann (Budge) was a case of ensuring it suited everyone.

“I’ve loved every minute I’ve been here. I’ve enjoyed it and it’s been a very good fit for me as a player.

“The people at the club are fantastic and I’ve had a good relationship with not only the boys in the team but the manager and everybody around the club. And on a personal note, family life has been fantastic being back in Scotland.

“I’ll see out my playing days here at Hearts. At this stage of your career you do need to think about what you want to do in the game, or what you want to do in the time remaining as a player, so that took an initial bit of time with making my decision.

“But this is definitely the right place for me to be. I enjoy that responsibility of being an older player, handing on that experience I’ve got to the younger boys and taking those tentative steps of passing that on and maybe looking forward to being a coach in the future, if that’s what I want to do when I finish.

“Putting concrete things in place is always difficult when you’re playing but it’s something I’m keen to do and the club say they are keen to do that as well.”

Naismith added: “For me, at Hearts, it’s about, firstly, pushing this club further in the league and challenging closer to the top of the table and, secondly, getting some silverware in the cup competitions. That’s got to be the short-term goal.

“Personally it’s about enjoyment. The biggest thing I’ve had in my career and over the past few years is the enjoyment of playing every week, and being at a club that has demands on it and wants to be successful and go to the next level. That’s what drives me the most.”

Naismith scored 14 goals in 27 appearances last season despite undergoing two knee operations, and he is closing in on a comeback ahead of Sunday’s Ladbrokes Premiership opener at Aberdeen.

“I’m now getting back into training,” he said. “For the next few weeks it will be a case of working really hard and keeping the head down and trying to get the sharpness back. But I’m definitely right on track so hopefully I can be involved at the start of the league season.”