When the coronavirus pandemic first forced Scottish football into abeyance back in March, it came at an unfortunate time for Adam Bogdan.
Having returned to Hibs for a second spell in November following his summer release from Liverpool, the Hungarian goalkeeper felt he was only just beginning to get back up to speed when the season was suspended.
He had been a first-team regular during his loan from Anfield the previous season until suffering a nasty concussion in January, but the 32-year-old had struggled to break into the Hibs starting 11 second time around, appearing only as an unused substitute under Jack Ross.
Having spent several months without a club before making his return to Easter Road, Bogdan did not expect to walk back in and instantly reclaim the gloves he had worn 21 times the previous campaign.
But after three months of hard work in training, plus a handful of reserve matches, he felt he was getting back to a standard capable of challenging for Ofir Marciano’s number one position when coronavirus hit.
The subsequent conclusion of the season, combined with the ongoing uncertainty over the future, has ultimately brought an end to his time in Edinburgh, with the club confirming his release this week.
Sad but understandable
“I was sad to leave last summer and I’m sad to be leaving now,” Bogdan said. “The circumstances are that they are not in a position to offer anything to the players who are out of contract, and I have to understand that, and move on.
“Because of the furlough and wage deferrals they don’t think it would be fair to offer contracts to players, so I think it’s a noble reason
“Of course, I’m going to miss the team, my team-mates and the city as well. I kind of knew with the talks we were having, I had the feeling that they were not going to be in a position to offer me a contract.
“As much as it’s sad, it’s understandable. If you don’t have any income then you’re not really able to invest in the next two or three years with the contract length. If you understand the club’s philosophy on budget, you could see it coming.”
Had it not been for the coronavirus outbreak, Bodgan feels he may have managed to break into the Hibs first team before the end of the season.
“We will never know now,” he said. “Being out of contract for four or five months in the summer it took a wee bit to get up to speed when I signed, or certainly up to my expectation of myself.
“I don’t know how it looked from the outside but I was getting better and better and more confident each training session. Maybe I had a feeling it was going to be possible to get games, but you never know.
“Ofir might’ve had fantastic games for the next eight or ten games then you don’t have a sniff. We’ll never know this but I was in a good place when it was finished, and I was extra sorry for myself that it finished when it did. It was bad timing for me.”
The decision not to renew his contract was certainly not down to any lack of desire on Bogdan’s part to stay. He may have only spent a short time in Edinburgh but he built a strong affinity for both the club and the city.
“I had a good relationship with the manager and my team-mates, and with the club,” he said. “That relationship is still the same – there’s absolutely no hard feelings, but I would like to think it would have been different (without coronavirus).
“I’ve said it multiple times before that we found our second home. I felt a connection straight away in Edinburgh. It is my type of city and the club as well is so much embedded into the community, and the stadium is amazing.
“My family enjoyed it, we loved being in the city, we made such good friends, and I really, really enjoyed being at the club as well. Everyone was so friendly and helpful to me.
“Of course I wish I played more games in the second spell, and I wish I didn’t get injured with the concussion last January, but apart from those things it was a fantastic experience and it’s good to know I have another city other than Budapest that I can feel home, and know I can go back anytime – although not right now because you have to be in quarantine.
“As soon as I have a break, and when it’s possible to fly, I will come and visit friends, and I would like to keep in touch with the club and watch some games. I have some friends at the club so I’m sure I will come back and visit.
“It’s unfortunate that it worked out this way, but you never know, the future is strange.”
Irons in the fire
Bogdan is now back in his homeland, where the football season resumed a few weeks ago, training with a local third tier club in Budapest to stay fit.
His focus is now on finding a new club, revealing that he has one or two irons in the fire, but admitting that a return to Britain, where he has played all his football since moving to Bolton Wanderers in 2007, is unlikely.
“I’m training every day, recovering, and seeing family. Here the restrictions are much less than it is in Scotland, so right now we’re able to live a pretty normal life apart from some precautions,” he said.
“My daughter went back to school, she’s going to the British school here, so we have a pretty normal day-to-day life.
“It’s great to be home but I’m sad to miss the Scottish Cup semi-final and the last bit of the season which is normally the most exciting bit, and the spring time in Edinburgh which is always amazing.
“I think everybody has lost a lot in this pandemic, but it is what it is. You have to move on. I will always think of the positives from this period, and I will know I can return and visit friends and the football club.
“For myself and Hibs, it was a case of love at first sight.”