Michael Smith has hailed his time at Hearts as the happiest of his career, as the defender extends his stay at Tynecastle until summer 2023.
The Northern Irishman has been a core component of every Hearts side he’s played in since arriving in Edinburgh in 2017, putting in consistently top performances in a variety of positions for the JTs.
He becomes the fourth contract extension this January: following in the footsteps of his defensive colleagues in sealing their stay in Gorgie. The man may be from Monkstown but has taken to life in the Scottish capital like a fish to water, a place he now calls home.
"It feels good, it was easy to say yes. When we sat down to speak about it, it was sorted quickly,” he told Hearts TV.
“When I came up and saw the city, we clicked straight away. It felt like a good fit from the off; I enjoy it here and love everything about it.
"I think we're building something special: I want to be a part of that and see where we go. Ever since I came to Hearts, I've probably played the best football of my career. I've gotten into the Northern Ireland squad and the family are settled; that's what made it an easy decision.
The feeling of optimism around Hearts is palpable: and with an exciting run of games ahead as we speed towards the second half of the season, Michael thinks he and his teammates are well equipped to tackle the future.
"At times it's been tough; especially when we were unfairly relegated. To go back up and do ever so well this season: we want to continue that. We're building a great squad; a few new recruits and some contract extensions as well. We're building something special.
"It's the best squad I've been a part of. We've brought in good quality, not just numbers. The unity in the squad is great, everyone plays their part. It must be tough for the gaffer picking just eleven to play every week, but that's a real good thing about this squad!
"We're newly promoted but doing so well. I'd love to challenge for top three and push for Europe every season; that's where this club should be.
"We're all working to bring some stability back, and hopefully I can be a part of that.”
Michael's interview is available to watch in full on Hearts TV by clicking here.