Heart of Midlothian have completed the signing of Northern Ireland international goalkeeper Michael McGovern, subject to international clearance.
The hugely experienced shot-stopper joins the Jambos as a free agent, penning a one-year deal with the option of a further year.
With significant experience in the Scottish top flight, the English Premiership and Championship as well as representing Northern Ireland at the European Championships, the 39-year-old arrives at Tynecastle to bolster the goalkeeping department, provide competition for Zander Clark and also pass on his knowledge to the club’s younger goalkeepers.
No stranger to Scottish football, Michael came through the youth system at Celtic where he picked up two Scottish Cup winner’s medals. He spent time on loan at Stranraer and St Johnstone before making a permanent move to Dundee United in 2008.
After a year at Tannadice he headed north to take the number one jersey at Ross County. He helped the Staggies to a Scottish Cup Final appearance, losing to Dundee United at Hampden, before lifting the Scottish Challenge Cup in 2011.
A three-year stint at Falkirk followed, where he would again win the Scottish Challenge Cup and was twice named the club’s Player of the Year and appeared in consecutive PFA Scotland Teams of the Year.
In 2014, Michael made the step up the Scottish Premiership when he joined Hamilton Academical. A stand out during his time at New Douglas Park, he helped Accies to consolidate their position as a top flight club during his two-year spell.
His form didn’t go unnoticed, and in July 2016 Michael made the move south of the border to join then-EFL Championship side Norwich City, where he played alongside current Hearts Technical Director Steven Naismith. The Canaries would lift the Championship title in 2019, affording Michael the opportunity to make his Premier League debut the following season. Although that campaign ended in relegation, Michael played his part the following season as Norwich once again lifted the league title to win immediate promotion back to the top flight.
Though the first of Michael’s 32 Northern Ireland caps came in 2010, it wasn’t until 2015 when he made the jersey his own. He played a key role in Northern Ireland topping their qualifying group to advance through the 2016 European Championship finals in France. Picking up where they left off, Michael was an ever-present as Northern Ireland made it through their group to the Round of 16, where they suffered a narrow 1-0 defeat to eventual semi-finalists Wales.
After seven years at Carrow Road, Michael’s contract came to an end this summer and he’ll now call Hearts his home as the Jambos gear up for a busy domestic and European campaign.
Speaking the Official Hearts Website, Head Coach Frankie McAvoy said: “Michael is someone who I know very well from our time together at Hamilton Academical and then Norwich City.
“He’s got great character but, most importantly, he’s a first-class goalkeeper and you only need to look at the career he’s had to see that.
“He’ll push Zander all the way in the training as we head towards the start of the season, and I’m certain our young goalkeeper will find his experience invaluable.”
Technical Director Steven Naismith said: “I played with Michael at Norwich City so I know first-hand how good of a goalkeeper he is and he has the right characteristics to fit into this group of players.
“With departures from last season and Craig Gordon working hard on his rehabilitation, we were a bit short in the goalkeeping department so when the opportunity came up to bring someone of Michael’s pedigree in, it was really a no brainer.
“The experience he’s amassed playing at the highest level in Scotland, England and internationally will be massive benefit to the squad as a whole, but particularly our goalkeepers.
“We’re excited about Harry Stone’s prospects and Michael coming in allows him to get even more game time, be it with the B Team or a loan move, with a view to him coming into the first team squad.”
Sporting Director Joe Savage said: “We’re delighted to get Michael in the door as our first signing of the summer.
“We identified early on which areas needed strengthening and one of those was the goalkeeping department, so to get someone as talented and experienced as Michael into the squad is a massive boost.
“Our recruitment team has been working round the clock this summer and will continue to do so in order to find and bring in the right players for this club. We have many irons in the fire at the moment and I’m confident that our magnificent supporters won’t have long to wait until we add even more quality to the group.”