Former Leeds United defender Marius Žaliūkas has died at the age of just 36. All of us at Through It All Together sends our condolences to his friends and family.
Terribly sad news. 36 is far too young. RIP Marius Zaliukas. #LUFC— The Square Ball (@TheSquareBall) October 31, 2020
Marius Žaliūkas made his bow in senior football in his home country of Lithuania with Inkaras Kaunas, before moving to city rivals FBK Kaunas. He spent a season on loan at FK Silute, but established himself in the FBK Kaunas side once he returned. He broke into the Lithuania national team in 2005 and went on to get 25 caps, scoring once against Slovakia.
For the 2006/07 season, Žaliūkas was one of many players to move on loan from FBK Kaunas to Heart of Midlothian, with both clubs under the controversial ownership of Vladimir Romanov. Žaliūkas was the most successful of these loanees, and he made his move permanent ahead of the 2007/08 season.
I remember the Hillsborough game like everyone else but Zaliukas was a hero at Hearts and captain for arguably the biggest win in our history. So young too. Very sad to read this.https://t.co/j1RUbltwZ9— Phil Hay (@PhilHay_) October 31, 2020
Hearts are the club most associated with Žaliūkas. In seven seasons the Lithuanian made 212 appearances, scoring 14 goals. Helping the Edinburgh side win the Scottish Cup in 2012 with a 5-1 win at Hampden Park against city rivals Hibernian.
Awful awful news about Marius Zaliukas. A real Hearts hero. Sincere condolences to all his family and friends. 36 years old. Shocking.— Foundation of Hearts (@The_FOH) October 31, 2020
Žaliūkas signed for Leeds following a successful trial spell, and he made his debut against Yeovil Town on 1st November 2013. Žaliūkas showed some good form at Leeds early in his spell and established himself in the side and he was rewarded with an extension to take him through the 2014/15 season - but a drop in form saw him leave the club after a mutual termination of his contract at the end of the 2013/14 season.
There are two main memories regarding Žaliūkas that stick with Leeds fans, one positive, and one negative. The positive one was his amazing tackle on Joel Ekstrand when Leeds played Watford. The negative one was his performance when Leeds lost 6-0 against Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough, which was one of the poorer performances you will ever see.
Marius Zaliukas' tackle on Ekstrand against Watford last season should really have earned him an MBE.— Mark (@MDu5_) December 2, 2014
After leaving Leeds, Žaliūkas played a season in the Scottish Championship with Glasgow Rangers as they made their way back up the leagues, before the returning to Lithuania with Zalgiris - where he finished his career with a Lithuanian league title.