Niklas Gunnarsson knows tomorrow’s Scottish Cup final is likely to be his last game for Hibs but the Norwegian defender is determined to leave on a high having been pestered for months by fans telling him just how much winning the trophy means to them.
Gunnarsson is poised to return to his homeland club Valerenga as his short-term loan deal in Edinburgh draws to a close with what he admits will be the biggest game of his career. Just how big it could be has been hammered home to him as he has gone about his daily business in the capital.
“When I am out shopping, having a coffee or getting the groceries people have stopped me to tell me how important it is,” revealed the 25-year-old. “It is all in good fun, but you can see how much it means to the supporters, especially when you consider that the club has not won this final in 114 years. It’s a massive game and hopefully we can give the supporters what they deserve.”
Gunnarsson admitted those fans weren’t too happy a week ago as Falkirk ended Hibs’ hopes of winning promotion to the Premiership but he insisted he and his team-mates have to push that disappointment out of their minds.
He said: “We can’t do too much about that now, we need to move on. I have been told winning the Scottish Cup is more important than winning promotion. If we win this game then I think people will feel we have enjoyed a good season. We wanted to get promotion and we wanted to win the League Cup, but in football good teams get into big games and sometimes they win, sometimes they lose. We haven’t done the thing we wanted to do, but that’s football and we need to focus on what is ahead of us.”
l Niklas Gunnarsson was supporting the Tesco Bank Football Challenge in which 320 pupils from local primary schools enjoyed a fun-filled day at Easter Road, the youngsters being the latest to take part in six weeks of coaching sessions as part of the SFA’s flagship participation programme.