Heffernan joins Heart

Melbourne's new Hyundai A-League team, tentatively titled the Heart, have secured the services of Central Coast Mariners defender Dean Heffernan to join recent signings Kristian Sarkies from Adelaide United and Matt Thompson from the Newcastle Jets.

Melbourne's new Hyundai A-League team, tentatively titled the Heart, have secured the services of Central Coast Mariners defender Dean Heffernan to join recent signings Kristian Sarkies from Adelaide United and Matt Thompson from the Newcastle Jets.

Heffernan will take up a three-year deal with the Heart despite being one of eight foundation players still playing at the Gosford-based club.

Other than a season on loan at German Bundesliga side Nurenberg, Heffernan has been ever-present in yellow and navy.

The former Sutherland Sharks midfielder moves on with the club's full blessing, as he begins a new chapter in his career.

"When Dean first told us he was in negotiations with the new franchise we were obviously very disappointed," said Mariners Executive Chairman Lyall Gorman.

"To lose a player of Dean's calibre is going to be a loss, but it is a great opportunity for him and we certainly wouldn't stand in the way of a player looking to advance their career."

"Dean has been a great ambassador for the club both on and off the field, and we wish him the very best for the future."

"The club, as I'm sure Dean is, is now really looking forward to the remainder of the Hyundai A-League 2009/10 season, where we believe we have a great opportunity to be successful," said Gorman.

Heffernan is the 13th player to represent the yellow and navy, making his debut for the club as a second half substitute in the historic first ever competitive match, a Club World Championship qualifier against Newcastle Jets, which ended in a memorable 4-2 penalty shootout victory.

The 29-year-old has racked up 77 competitive appearances, 59 of those coming in the Hyundai A-League, having racked up 10 goals along the way.

"It's going to be a good move for him. A new club, a big city and a brand new stadium, so there a re a lot of plusses for Heff to go there," said Mariners Football Manager Lawrie McKinna.

"He's been a good servant of the club, and he's been here since the beginning, we wish him all the best, and hopefully he goes well for them."

After setting up home on the Central Coast over the past five years, Heffernan admits the decision was anything but easy.

"It's been a while thinking about this one. I see it as a fresh start, a new challenge, and a good opportunity to start with a new franchise and see if we can build the club up to be a good A-League side for the future," said Heffernan.

"Because of this group of boys, there's been a lot of them here since the beginning and now with the new boys, it's going to be even harder to leave than it was in the first year."

"It's not finished yet, there's a long way to go this season, and we all think we're a really good chance of silverware, so I'm not going to think too much about Melbourne Heart until after the Grand Final now."

"They (the fans) supported me even when I broke my leg, and had a few quiet games coming back from injury. They've always been there to support, so I want to thank them for that, and hopefully give them a Grand Final (win) before a couple of us leave."

And Heffernan believes the newfound defensive resolve of the Mariners will go a long way to helping achieve that goal.

"You've got Brad Porter in there as well who has been doing a great job while Doigy has been out injured. Overall I think the Gaffer has done well with the shape, and getting men behind the ball, along with (assistant coach) Alex Tobin and (goalkeeping coach) John Crawley's video sessions, organising our defensive shape and where we want to start defending from."

"We're defending from the front, and it's whole team which is defending well, but it's great we're scoring goals too," said Heffernan.