Hibs’ Alex Gogic will find closed doors hard after growing up amid ‘crazy crowds’ and fireworks

New recruit aiming to live up to his warrior image at Easter Road once season gets started

Alex Gogic is glad to be back in training, after the unwanted lay-off due to the coronavirus crisis. Photograph: SNS
Alex Gogic is glad to be back in training, after the unwanted lay-off due to the coronavirus crisis. Photograph: SNS

As a kid who served as a ballboy in Greek stadiums as the notoriously combustible fans made themselves known behind him and sparks flew as fireworks and flares filled the air above, Alex Gogic is better suited to packed arenas.

So he is hoping that the empty stands that will greet Scottish Premiership clubs on their anticipated return to action in a couple of weeks will not be vacant for long.

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The Cypriot-born defensive midfielder, who can also operate in the backline, is one of Hibernian’s summer acquisitions and is likely to be a key figure when play resumes.

His presence could provide the Easter Road club with the steel they have been missing in that holding role in the middle of the park, while his combative, no-holds-barred, will-to-win will also bolster the chances of the Leith side getting off to a bolder and better start than they mustered last term and afford them a more realistic chance of challenging for European places.

The club’s target is also a personal ambition of the 26-year-old, who was raised on such occasions, as his father, the Serbian-born Cypriot international striker Sinisa Gogic, starred for Olympiacos in Champions League action and celebrated domestic honours in Greece and back in Cyprus with APOEL.

“I remember him playing in the Champions League and scoring goals,” recalls the former Hamilton midfielder. “My favourite memory was when he won the league trophy and celebrated, lifting the trophy and doing the lap of honour. We got to do that with the players.

“I went to matches from when I was three or four years old. And even younger when we were still in Cyprus. I can remember being a ball boy in Greece. There were always fireworks and crazy crowds at these games. I loved that and always wanted to be just singing with the fans and enjoying the pyrotechnics.

“I’m looking forward to playing in front of noisy crowds and a big atmosphere once again. I grew up with that. When you play in front of these crowds you can feel that.”

That passion is reflected in the way Gogic plays the game. Described by colleagues as a warrior, he is a dogged and determined opponent, who is humble enough to recognise his often unfashionable role but technically-able enough to supplement his more negative role with a decent range in passing and progressing play.

He is perhaps too self-deprecating when comparing his impact on games with that of his father but it is clear he owes his dad a lot – with nature and nurture playing their part on his psyche and his love affair with the game that has been his life.

“He [his dad] was a striker so played a different position from me but he definitely helped me fall in love with football. I saw him playing in big games, winning trophies and scoring goals. I don’t play in his position but he has definitely influenced me. Even just being in the stadium every week and being able to hear the changing room and being around footballers made me fall in love with the game.

“I probably get a lot of my mentality from my dad. He always wanted to win games by himself if he could and he played in a position where he could do that. If I’m a warrior maybe that’s just in my nature, maybe my Serbian background too.

“I know what my job in the team is and I’m happy to do that. I like that role. It lets us be solid as a unit.”

That selflessness can benefit Hibs hugely.

“I just get the ball and give it to the strikers, wingers or people in front of me like Scott Allan. And then I just let them do their part.

“I’ve been impressed already with the attacking guys around me. And the pace of them; guys like Martin Boyle. As long as we just stop the goals at the other end, we won’t have any trouble.”

Given his first run out in a bounce game against St Johnstone midweek, Gogic is now itching for the competitive action to get under way after the unwanted and unappreciated lay-off due to the coronavirus crisis.

“It does feel a bit strange, especially the gap we had at the end of last season when we couldn’t train as a team. Sometimes when you’re injured and you have to train by yourself it can be hard and it was like that. I’m just glad we’re all back.”

And the prospect of possibly reuniting with his former Hamilton team-mate, Greg Docherty, should Hibs manage to convince the player and his parent club Rangers that he should return to the capital for another loan spell, excites Gogic.

“I think Greg is an amazing player. Him coming back and me playing with him again would be brilliant. He’s strong, a powerful runner and I enjoyed playing with him when I came to Hamilton. Him scoring in the play-offs was an amazing memory too.

“We’re still in touch and I talk to him often. If he does decide to come back I think that would be great for Hibs.

“We complement each other well in midfield. I don’t run forward as much but I can cut out other team’s attacks and give the ball to someone like Greg to use his pace to drive the team forward. That helps.”

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