VETERAN Kelty Hearts defender Jason Thomson will hang up his boots after he decided to call time on his playing career.

The 36-year-old, who reached, and surpassed, the landmark total of 500 professional games earlier in the season, has retired from the game despite player / manager, Michael Tidser, revealing that he tried to persuade him to play on for another year.

Thomson, who moved to New Central Park from Arbroath in September 2022, had told Press Sport before the end of the season that he would "see what the future holds" in the close season, and that he would "see how the body holds up".

READ MORE: 'We'll see how the body holds up': Thomson on Kelty future

He has, however, chosen to retire from the game and Tidser, who said his team-mate had been "first class", and would be "sorely missed" if he left, told his club's website: "He’s been brilliant for me in my first season as manager, not only on the pitch but off the pitch as well.

"I tried a few times to get one more year out of Jase. He’s had a brilliant career and its been a pleasure to play alongside him and to have him in the squad."

Dunfermline Press: Jason Thomson surpassed 500 career appearances earlier in the season.Jason Thomson surpassed 500 career appearances earlier in the season. (Image: David Wardle.)

Edinburgh-born Thomson began his career with boyhood favourites Heart of Midlothian, having progressed through their youth set-up, making his senior debut against Inverness Caledonian Thistle in March 2005.

During his time at Tynecastle, the full back had loan spells with Livingston, Dunfermline Athletic - for whom he played during their last spell in the top flight, in the 2011/12 season - and Raith Rovers, and signed for the latter permanently in 2012.

He spent six years at Stark's Park, making 253 appearances, and captained the Kirkcaldy club to a memorable 1-0 triumph over Rangers in the 2014 Challenge Cup (Now SPFL Trust Trophy) final.

Thomson's next destination was Arbroath, for whom he played 131 times, and he helped them win the League One title - a division which also featured former club Raith - in his first season at Gayfield.

During the 2021/22 campaign, he was a regular in the Red Lichties side as they mounted a thrilling challenge for the Championship title, which they lost out on to Kilmarnock on the penultimate weekend, before they lost out in the promotion play-offs to Inverness Caledonian Thistle at the semi-final stage.

Thomson left the Angus club for Kelty early in the following season, helping the team then managed by John Potter, with whom he played at Dunfermline, secure survival in their first League One season with an eighth-place finish.

After Tidser took over as manager, following Potter's departure for a new role at Raith, Thomson agreed a new one-year contract with Kelty, taking him into his 20th year as a professional.

Dunfermline Press: Thomson spent almost two years at New Central Park.Thomson spent almost two years at New Central Park. (Image: David Wardle.)

He played 36 matches across competitions, taking his total for the club to 53, to help the 'Maroon Machine' to their highest SPFL finish, sixth in League One, to date.

Thomson's last appearance came in Kelty's final home game of the campaign, against Montrose, and he was recently presented with a career recognition plate at the club's end of season awards night.

The club said that he had become "a fan favourite for his performances on the pitch as well as his work off the pitch, taking part in initiatives like our SPFL Festive Friends Programme last winter", and sporting director, Craig Reynolds, commented: "Jason has been brilliant for the club. Having his experience has helped us get to where we are now.

"He has had a great career and deserves all the plaudits. On behalf of the board, committee, supporters and everyone involved at the club I’d like to wish him all the best on his retirement."