Martin Boyle: From shovelling sand for Donald Trump to World Cup ambitions, why Hibs winger is living the dream at Easter Road

One year after putting pen to paper on his previous Hibs contract, Martin Boyle has done it again and jokes that he has had more deals than haircuts during his six-and-a-half years at Easter Road.

But that is still nowhere near as many goals or assists as the nifty winger has weighed in with, or close to the number of man of the match awards he has earned as a consequence.

Which is why the club keep revising his contract, extending the length of time they have a say in where he is playing his football and ensuring he continues to feel as valued as he undoubtedly is by his bosses.

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The latest negotiations have stretched his association with the Leith side to at least 2024 and, crucially, erased the clause that could have seen clubs outside Scotland trigger a buy-out clause for just £500,000. Given his value to the team that would have been a sore one to take.

Hibs manager Jack Ross and his assistant John Potter (L) are a major factor in Martin Boyle's decision to sign an extended deal to stay at the Easter Road club. Photo by Ross Parker / SNS GroupHibs manager Jack Ross and his assistant John Potter (L) are a major factor in Martin Boyle's decision to sign an extended deal to stay at the Easter Road club. Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group
Hibs manager Jack Ross and his assistant John Potter (L) are a major factor in Martin Boyle's decision to sign an extended deal to stay at the Easter Road club. Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group

He may one day opt for a change of scene but, over the next three years, that will only happen with the club’s permission.

Not that Boyle envisages a day when he will want to move on. Not when the club’s ambitions and his own continue to align and not when he is so happy to turn up at work every day.

While some are never done chasing something bigger and better, Boyle is a more contented figure. And having worked so hard to get to the stage where he is one of manager Jack Ross’ first picks for every game, and reached a level where he is not only being selected for Australia but, as one of those shortlisted for Socceroo of the year, is also looking ahead to next year’s World Cup in Qatar with well-merited excitement, he knows that the grass is not always greener.

“It's a bit surreal all that's happening. It doesn't seem that long ago I was playing for Montrose and doing normal jobs.

“The transition has been big and if you'd told me back then I'd potentially be going to the World Cup and playing for such a big club I'd have said you were lying.

“But it's been tremendous and I don't want it to stop.

"The World Cup is a big aim but I need to be doing well for Hibs to be in contention. I need to keep my head down and hopefully make an impact.”

With 15 goals and 13 assists at club level last season, he made his mark. It was his best ever return since turning professional and was a result of his own hard work and that of the coaching staff, including Ross and his assistant manager – the mischievous and boisterous Boyle’s partner in crime around the training ground.

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“There’s trust. They give you a sense of freedom around the place and freedom on the pitch.

“I can’t put my finger on it but it just seems to work and it’s been great.

‘I’ve never been happier in football and I’ve got a great relationship with Pottsy. It’s mayhem at times and the gaffer has to avoid us sometimes but it’s the way it works at the moment and it’s working well.”

From Montrose to Dundee, there were growing signs of potential but it is at Hibs that Boyle has blossomed, adding to his game each season and maturing as a player, even if he has retained a childlike playfulness which is still a (mostly) welcome mood enhancer around the ground.

Knowing how far he has come, negotiating some tough jobs, even tougher injuries and the uncertainty served up by managerial changes has forced him to prove himself again and again.

“Everyone has different career paths. Some people start at the top level and work their way down but I started at the bottom and worked my way up, season by season. That’s the way it has worked out for me and I’m thankful. If there is anyone down there thinking of giving up I’d advise them not to because you never know what lies around the corner.

“It was great playing for Montrose. I was 16 or 17 years old going into a big boy dressing room and that was an eye-opener.

“I got work through an agency, where every week I did something different. I helped build Donald Trump’s golf course, doing all the sand dunes and digging out the weeds and all that. So, thanks to him.

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“Then I would be unloading boxes off the back of a lorry and putting them into vans. I was doing a lot of stuff like that. Every week was different. It was mayhem then I left work to go to training at night but I had young legs so I could run round them all. It was great.

“So I know I’m in a privileged position now where I come into my work every day with a smile on my face. All I wanted to do when I was a little boy was be a professional footballer and thankfully I have done that.”

He now has a contract that should allow him to do that until he is at least 31 and as one of the elder statesmen in the dressing room, he recognises the extra responsibility, discussing an unofficial mentor role, talking about getting his coaching badges and even calming down.

“Maybe I should just become a boring guy now.”

That seems far-fetched. The only monotonous thing about him is his growing consistency to deliver come match day.

“Hopefully I didn’t peak last season. I’ve got off to a great start this season with five goals in seven games, which is great but I’d like to add more. I want to create more and I want to be a winner here. Everyone’s buying into what the manager is building and we are feeling really ambitious right now. It’s great.”

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