It came too late to be submitted as a character reference. But Chris Humphrey’s insight into Neil Lennon delivered hours before the Hibernian manager attended a disciplinary hearing at Hampden helped provide a more rounded view of an often misunderstood character.
Lennon’s angry response to a poor tackle by Morton’s Kudus Oneyuga and subsequent war of words with Cappielow manager Jim Duffy was why he was required to be in attendance at the national stadium last night.
The Hibs manager also created headlines with his scathing assessment of his players following Saturday’s 3-2 Scottish Cup semi-final defeat by Aberdeen. But Humphrey has seen another side of Lennon, whose compassion has helped him cope with a family issue encountered soon after he joined Hibs in a short-term deal in December.
The former Motherwell winger has not had his problems to seek since his return to Scotland. He has not played since picking up an injury soon after starring in Hibs’ storming start against Hearts in February’s Scottish Cup replay victory.
But his recovery was interrupted by a personal problem that has meant he missed part of his rehabilitation programme. An unused substitute against Aberdeen on Saturday, Humphrey is in line to make a return for the champions against Raith Rovers tonight.
“I was going through a difficult time and had a bit of time off,” Humphrey revealed. “The gaffer was brilliant. He rang me up and gave me a lot of support. He told me to come back whenever I was ready. I can’t thank him enough for that.
“You don’t really see that side of him when he’s on the pitch,” added Humphrey. “Personally, I’ve seen both sides of him and I can understand where he comes from when he goes mad or whatever. He just wants us to win, so if we don’t win, he’s not happy.”
Humphrey’s future is up in the air – understandably, according to the player himself. Although he has impressed in flashes, he knows he now needs to prove he is over his injury problems in the three games Hibs have left.
“I haven’t heard anything, and I didn’t expect to,” he said. “I’ve been injured for a long time, so I wouldn’t expect to hear anything from the club yet.
“I need to play and prove to them that I’m fit and it’s not going to happen again.
“My main objective is to play these games and see where that takes me.
“These games are definitely important for me, just to try to get some games under my belt, and for my own peace of mind to prove to myself that it’s fine.
Hibs have proved why Humphrey was so keen to join a club he insisted in December were “going places”. From his recent vantage point on the bench Humphrey is well placed to judge Lennon’s recent comment that Hibs are the second-best team in the country.
“I can’t see why not,” he said. “We proved on Saturday that we can mix with the best of them. Aberdeen are second in the Premiership but, apart from the first 20-odd minutes, I thought we did very well.”