“I can’t put it into words. I’m still numb,” he said, looking completely overwhelmed. “It was crazy how the game went. To go 2-1 down I thought, ‘we’ve done it again’. But our bottle has been questioned so many times this season so to bounce back from what happened last week [in the play-offs against Falkirk] and do this in the cup was so emotional. It showed the character and bottle in this side. I’m so delighted.”
What the emotional Stevenson intends to get inked on his body possibly sums up his testimonial year. “We’ve had people saying we’ve Hibsed it – I’m going to get my first tattoo saying ‘We Hibsed it’ with today’s date and a picture of the Scottish Cup!”
For a player who has spent his whole career at the club and weathered every storm and every broken heart, he admitted that he had become a virtual recluse in the aftermath of the Scottish Cup final defeat to Hearts in 2012. This summer he will be more sociable.
“It takes its toll, not just on you playing but on your life. I moved back to Fife to try to get away from some of the hysteria and pressure football was causing me. I’ve put my family under some amount of stress.
“We can imagine the pain we have put Hibs fans through – I’ve felt it myself. But the euphoria we have today takes away every low we’ve had. I thought I was destined for failure to be honest. Thank god I wasn’t.”
But there was a moment of doubt. And when Andy Halliday put Rangers ahead with 26 minutes remaining, he had flashbacks to past disappointments and a bile-inducing fear that history was about to repeat itself.
“When Rangers went 2-1 up I had a deep feeling it was happening again. But to come back and have the captain score the winner and lift the cup – you couldn’t have written it. I’m sure I will enjoy my summer. I might move back to Leith!”
It is safe to say that should he up sticks he will be welcomed back to the area with open arms.
“People might say it’s the Scottish Cup and there are other things to achieve in football, but to get that feeling after 114 years for the club is something I will cherish forever. I took it for granted the last time I won a trophy [the League Cup in 2007] but there’s no chance of that happening this time.”
The melee of fans rushing on to the park curtailed the celebrations, with players rushed off to the safety of Hampden’s inner sanctum. It denied the players their lap of honour but for Stevenson, unlike some Rangers players who were kicked and punched by the hordes, the Hibs defender was able to take some positives from it.
“I was caught in the crowds. I’ve seen it before and sometimes they want your head on a stick. But they just wanted to hug me!
“I am sure there were a few things going on you don’t want to see happening to other professionals. Rangers are a good team and Kenny Miller showed what a good professional he is by coming into the dressing room and saying ‘well done’.”
“I’m not daft,” added Stevenson, “there’s been loads of players who are miles better than me who have been at Hibs. They’ve tried to get the Scottish Cup but haven’t quite managed to do it. But for myself and the players here it’s impossible to describe this feeling.”