So no wonder Conrad Logan kept his sights low. He would have been content, he says, simply to have played a reserve game before the end of the season.
Instead, he ended a campaign he was preparing to write off as a Hibs legend. Rather than making his comeback in a reserve game in front of a sprinkling of spectators, the 30-year-old goalkeeper made it at a Scottish Cup semi-final, before signing off for the season by helping create history with Saturday’s Scottish Cup win over Rangers.
Logan reflected yesterday on this wildly different trajectory, which was triggered by a lost contact lens of all things.
“Personally I always thought if I can play a game this season, a reserve game or whatever, to get back and keep me going over the summer and into pre-season, then (that would be great),” he said.
“I had only trained a couple of times with a goalkeeping coach before I got a call here to say there’s a chance of a game in three weeks, will you be fit? At the time I thought probably not. But I decided to give it a go.
“The more I trained I felt alright and it’s been a good stepping stone for me to keep going over the summer and to crack on. The carrot was dangled. I’ve managed to get it, so I feel ready to go again next season.”
Logan did more than simply take his opportunity when it came his way against Dundee United. He emerged as man of the match at Hampden. Without his contribution it is very doubtful Hibs would have been in a position to make history against Rangers on Saturday. Of course, Logan was only meant to be covering for the suspended Mark Oxley in the semi-final against United. Rarely can a lost contact lens have proved so costly.
Oxley received a second booking for what the referee interpreted as time wasting in the quarter-final replay win over Inverness. If it wasn’t for this turn of events, Alan Stubbs would never have looked towards Conrad, out of contract after a long spell with Leicester City. It is natural to feel tremendous sympathy for Oxley, who watched the final unfold from the Hampden bench after being No 1 for the majority of the season.
“He’s been brilliant,” said Logan. “Goalkeepers just get on with it and hope you get another chance again. As goalkeeper there’s only one position out there while you might have two strikers.
“He has contributed to this as much as anyone. He’s played all games up to the semi-final so he’s deserved it.”
Underlining how surreal football has become in the last few weeks, Logan has already received a post-Scottish Cup win text of congratulations from Jamie Vardy, pictured, who did much to fire Leicester City towards the Premier League title. “A lot of the (Leicester) lads are in Thailand,” he said. “They’ve gone out there. The owner is from there.
“I had messages from a few but they’ve probably been drunk for the last couple of weeks, so they probably haven’t seen much of it (the Scottish Cup final).”
The question on Hibs fans’ lips now is, will Logan stay? Or will he ride back into the sunset, his legend sealed forever in Leith.
For a few more days at least, he remains a Hibs player. “I am signed until the end of the month,” he said.
That’s providing he didn’t sign any contract extension in the haze of a drunken hour on Saturday night/Sunday morning, as the players partied back at Easter Road. “I have literally not talked to anyone about it,” he said. “I came up here to have a go at it for a couple of months and see what happens. I said (to my agent) if there’s any interest don’t tell me until after the last game.
“I have not spoken to the manager here or anyone. That’s pretty much how it is. Have to wait and see how it is over the next couple of months. I’ve probably played more games than I thought I would coming here. I said [to my agent], we’ll assess things in the summer.”
The summer is here now and Logan – and Hibs – will have to make a decision. He will head back south in any case, a job well done and after sprinkling some Leicester City magic dust on Hibs, “I have enjoyed my time here,” he said. “It’s crazy to only have been here a couple of months and achieve what we have achieved in that space of time.”