Deivydas Matulevicius has only been at Hibernian a matter of days but he is already well aware of the capital rivalry with Hearts.
The big Lithuanian international is a good friend of a number of his countrymen who spent time on the other side of the Edinburgh divide and the banter has been plentiful since he put signed a two-year contract with the Leith club.
“Marius Zaliukas called me and told me I had signed for the wrong club! I am a really good pal of Marius but he told me we are not friends an more. I know he was joking,” said Matulevicius.”
Zaliukas was the Hearts captain as the Tynecastle side defeated their neighbours in the 2012 Scottish Cup final and infuriated Hibs fans by gesturing the scoreline from that Hampden encounter when the sides met on derby duty the following season. But Matulevicius said that he did admit Neil Lennon’s side had plenty to offer the striker.
“He told me that Hibs was a very good choice of club for me because they are a big name in Scottish football and they have a big history.”
But the 28-year-old knows that he may have to turn off his phone in the build-up to the first capital head to head, in October.
“I know all of the Lithuanian players that were at Hearts,” he added. “Novikovas, Cesnauskis, Mikoliunas. I have lost a lot of friends. They are all saying that they won’t speak to me no more. I played with Novikovas at the same club team when I was 15 years old and I know the others from the Lithuanian national team.
“I know all about the Edinburgh derby and Marius has told me that those games are like a war. I have told the ex-Hearts boys that when I play against their old club, Hibs will kill them!”
As soon as he heard that Hibs were interested in signing him, the 6’3” striker, who scored four goals in 15 appearances for Royal Mouscron in Belgium, took just one hour to agree the switch.
Having settled in quickly, describing the dressing room as welcoming, he says everything seems to be “perfect”. The transition has been eased further by the arrival of fellow Lithuanian Vykintas Slivka, on a three-year deal. The 22-year-old midfielder arrives in Scotland from Juventus, with both his new manager and Matulevicius talking up his attributes.
“Vykintas is a really good, strong technical player. He is an ex-Juventus player which is not an easy place to go to play football and he will certainly help the team a lot,” he said. “It is good to have him here as he is from my country but the dressing room at Hibs is very friendly and we are all like a big family.”
A fan of the Scottish game, Matulevicius says it is a style of play that suits him and he can’t wait to play in front of the enthusiastic crowds.
“Everybody knows about Scottish football and Hibs. I have been watching Scottish football for a few years now,” he said. “I have always wanted to come to a place like this to play. When I was young it was my dream to play football in a country like Scotland.
“The fans and the stadiums are great. It is a good league for players to come to and the style suits me. I am a big, physical striker and there is a lot of fight in the Scottish game and that is like my style. I would describe myself as big target man. I like to get involved in the rough and tumble in and around the box.”
Having watched from the stand as Hibs rattled six goals past Arbroath in their midweek League Cup match, he is excited about the supply from the players feeding the frontline and is relishing the number of goal opportunities that could come his way in the coming weeks and months.
“We are not fully fit yet but it is good when we create so many chances. When we have so many chances, for sure we will score.”