MICHAEL SMITH insists he has found a second home at Hearts after penning a new contract with the Tynecastle outfit.
The 32-year-old has been a standout performer for the Jambos since joining from Peterborough United in 2017, making 121 appearances and cementing his place in the Northern Ireland set-up.
His previous deal was due to expire in the summer, prompting some fans to sweat over his future, but Smith is adamant he never considered quitting Edinburgh.
And he has vowed to help the capital club ‘get back where it belongs’.
After signing on until 2022, Smith told Hearts’ official website: “It has always been important for me and my family to be somewhere we feel at home, and that’s exactly what we feel at Hearts.
“It’s been a really tough year for everyone off the pitch, and on it things haven’t been much better – but under the new manager we’ve made a great start to the season and we sit five points clear at the top of the league.
“I really want to be a part of getting this club back to where it belongs which is another reason why I’m happy to extend my stay.
“I want to thank everyone for their continued support and I can’t wait to get back playing in front of fans at Tynecastle when it is safe to do so.”
Hearts boss Robbie Neilson, meanwhile, admitted he was thrilled to retain a player who has become of of his key dressing room lieutenants.
He lauded: “Michael’s a really important player for us and a top player too. He has a wealth of experience and is an international standard player, which is great for the club.
“He’s been a mainstay from when he joined Hearts and I’ve really enjoyed working with him since I’ve come in, and I know he’s a player the younger guys look up to as well.”