ALAN STUBBS today revealed he’d been working on a bid to bring Islam Feruz to Hibs for a fortnight after making a move for the Chelsea youngster on the basis of “if you don’t ask, you don’t get.”
The Easter Road boss appeared to have sprung a major surprise in capturing the 19-year-old forward on a season-long deal just as the transfer window was drawing to a close but that announcement, he disclosed, was the result of days of hush-hush negotiations.
Stubbs was well aware that, having swapped Celtic for Stamford Bridge, Scotland Under-21 cap Feruz had struggled to make an impact in Londoin and had endured a series of ill-fated loan spells in Russia, Greece and elsewhere in England but that Chelsea were also anxious to see the highly-rated youngster’s career progress.
He said: “I knew about Islam but sometimes when it’s a big club – a really big club involved – you think there’s no chance of getting players. But, unless you ask, you are not going to get.
“We spoke to the club and his advisors and there seemed a willingness from all parties. It was just a case of making sure it was right for everybody and, at the end of the day, we are delighted. It could be a really exciting move for him and this club.”
While Somalia-born Feruz may have slipped off the radar north of the Border following his highly-publicised and acrimonious move from Celtic, Stubbs had seen his talent and potential at first hand during his time in charge of Everton’s Under-21 squad, prompting him to get in touch with Neil Bath, Chelsea’s head of youth development who oversees the club’s youngsters from the age of eight to 21.
He said: “We have to be really thankful to Neil and all the people there. Without their help the deal wouild not have happened.”
Feruz has arrived in Edinburgh with a “handle with care” warning, former SFA performance director Mark Wotte having claimed managing the player will be “a big challenge” for Stubbs.
But the Hibs head coach, while having heard of questions regarding Feruz’s application and attitude, insisted he’ll make his own judgment. He said: “I can’t disagree with others, that’s their opinion, but I cannot judge him because I have not worked with him yet. That would be wrong.
“We all make mistakes, we all do things we sometimes regret but the most important thing is to do something about it. He realises that one or two things have not gone as he would like. Sometimes that can happen when you are a young player with a lot of publicity and hype arouind you. But Chelsea think an awful lot of him. He’s still very young and you have to understand young lads are still maturing, still growing up. They can be away from their own family and sometimes you have to become the family a bit.”