If things had gone differently, Thomas Agyepong could have been playing Scottish football a couple of years ago.
The Manchester City player, who has joined Hibernian on a season-long loan, came up to Glasgow with the hope of gaining first-team experience at Celtic but fate got in the way.
“I was actually at Celtic when Ronny Deila was there a couple of years ago and I trained with them. I didn’t get to play a competitive game. The idea was to go there and train and see if I could get a loan deal there but I got injured and had to come back.”
But, after a spell in Dutch football, with Twente and NAC Breda, he has headed back to the Scottish Premiership and after a delayed start, as the club waited for a work permit to come through for the Ghana international, he is focused on making a bigger impact this time.
“I don’t know a lot about Scottish football, all I know is the Eredivisie is more technical and more slow. But Brandon did well here and that’s my goal, to achieve something.”
That Brandon Barker made such a positive impression on the fans and manager of the Leith club and played such an integral role as the side impressed in their first season back in the top flight was a key factor in Agyepong’s move.
Another speedy winger, he believes he can pick up from where his City colleague left off. Barker, below, who has joined Preston North End on loan this season, scored twice in 30 appearances for Hibs but helped create many more with his pace, verve and creativity.
“Brandon was here last season, so when I heard the club wanted to give me an opportunity to prove myself I spoke to him and he told me I will love it because when he was here he really enjoyed himself. It’s good for a mate to give you that kind of positive comment.
“I was with him in the Netherlands and when he came here he told me the set-up was great, he played a lot of games and the fans liked him.
“He told me the coach likes players who are direct and like to take players on. I thought ‘ok, I can enjoy coming here and working with him’,” said the 21-year-old.
“I have heard he is demanding but every manager is, at the end of the day they want results. When I was in the Netherlands it was the same, it’s not like academy football where it’s about development, it’s about winning games because their job is on the line. And as players you want to achieve something as well.
“Brandon did well here and that’s my goal, to achieve something. I am here to do my bit and give my contribution to the team. I think we are similar players, we like to take players on, we like to create chances and we like to score goals and contribute to the outcome of the team.”
While a hamstring problem curtailed his game time last season, Agyepong is desperate to make up for lost time and hit the ground running. On the bench last weekend, he was unused as Hibs progressed to the quarter-finals of the Betfred League Cup, but with another week of training with the squad under his belt, he is hoping for greater involvement when Hibs welcome Aberdeen to Easter Road this afternoon.
With experience of training with the English Premier League champions, he says he is used to having to raise his game to impress and wants the same opportunity at Hibs.
“It’s great at City, it’s a beautiful place. It’s a multi-million pound club. The facilities they have are amazing.
“I didn’t play any games, I would have loved to, but I got experience training with the first team and when you go up against players like the players there you have to up your level and you develop. You make mistakes because you are young but they are there to help you. When I was there they gave me advice, if I made a mistake they would tell me to keep going and if I did something right they would tell me too. That was good to hear from the best.
“Fernandinho was a big brother to me. Samir Nasri sometimes, Kolarov too. But the big one was Fernandinho, he used to speak to me all the time. Even now he still keeps in contact and he texts me and speaks to me and tells me to keep working hard to achieve my dreams.”