How Josh Doig is ready for Serie A success - Hearts release, Hibs progress, 'scrambled head', Ronaldo physique

October 22, 2019. A nondescript day at a nondescript Meggetland in Edinburgh. For a Tuesday afternoon, there was a decent crowd for a Reserve Cup group stage fixture between Hearts and Hibs.

The game finished 1-1 with Hearts earning an undeserved bonus point via a penalty shoot-out win.

Of the players involved that day, one stood out. Josh Doig.

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Then 17, aggressive, powerful, combative, direct, comfortable and composed. All afternoon he zipped up and down the left flank, winning his battles, running over the top of opponents. Perhaps he had a point to prove having only recently joined Hibs following a release from Hearts.

Hibs coach Lee Makel spoke afterwards of a player who some within the club at the time viewed as a possible centre-back.

Fast forward less than three packed years and the 20-year-old has his bags packed to make a £3million-plus move to Serie A, joining Hellas Verona.

He enters a door not too dissimilar to the one Aaron Hickey, Brentford's £18million signing from Bologna, passed through in 2020.

Hickey is one of those players Hearts viewed as being in front of him when that Tynecastle door closed. Football works like that and Doig's story is one of how to react when faced with that experience.

Josh Doig has moved to Hellas Verona in Serie A. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)

It would have been easy to stare at the closed door and ask questions. Why? What could I have done better? How could I have done better?

Instead, presented with another open door, he walked through, into a new environment, for a new challenge, a new experience.

He put the work in. Both on the technical and physical side of the game. Lewis Stevenson, who was ousted from the left-back position by Doig, spoke effusively about the player's athletic stature.

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“He is 6ft 3in, fast, strong," he said. “Even just looking at him with his top off, without meaning to sound creepy, he looks like Ronaldo, with that kind of physique.”

Doig impressed on loan at Queen's Park. (Photo by Rob Casey / SNS Group)

Ray McKinnon was equally gushing in his praise when he managed Doig during a very productive loan spell at Queen's Park. It was clear the player approached playing in League Two in the same manner he would a cup final. Every time he took to the field he impressed with both attitude and standards.

That was taken into his breakthrough season under Jack Ross. The same player who played in the reserves and in League Two could be seen getting his head down and bombing up the left flank at Easter Road.

A Scottish Football Writers’ Association Young Player of the Year followed his excellent season. As did interest from clubs. A transfer seemed likely but when that didn’t materialise his head was "absolutely scrambled”.

Of course it would be. He is only human. Back then, a teenage one.

It wasn't about bouncing back from a release, proving himself on loan then in the first-team, it was working things out in his head and getting back to a high level which would ensure the next transfer would be completed.

Now, it has.

He has lived experiences to fall back on if things get tough in Italy and the qualities, not just the technical and physical ones, but the mental ones to ensure he overcomes what he encounters and is another Scottish success in Serie A.

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