Hibs’ John McGinn takes sanctuary on the pitch

Hibs' John McGinn has been grateful for the advice of manager Neil Lennon, who was also the subject of a protracted transfer saga. Picture: SNS
Hibs' John McGinn has been grateful for the advice of manager Neil Lennon, who was also the subject of a protracted transfer saga. Picture: SNS
0
Have your say

Hibernian midfielder John McGinn admits the sanctum of football has been the ideal tonic amid the prying attention triggered by Celtic’s high-profile pursuit of his services.

That interest is only set to intensify following the news that the Leith club are also in talks with English Premier League outfit Brighton about the potential sale of the 23-year-old.

Fresh from scoring the crucial goal in Thursday’s 1-1 draw with Asteras Tripolis to earn Neil Lennon’s side a historic Europa League victory, the Scotland cap has broken his silence about the moves to prise him away from 
Easter Road.

Celtic’s protracted efforts have led to three offers, the latest reportedly being £2 million, rebuffed, with the Hibs board holding out for closer to double that amount.

A boyhood Celtic fan and former season ticket holder, the emotional appeal of a switch to the east end of Glasgow for McGinn, whose grandfather Jack was once the cub’s chairman, is difficult to suppress.

Furthermore, the attraction of a move south of the border to join football’s wealthiest league is obvious.

Everyday life has also been more challenging, with Hibs supporters keen to extract any morsel of information regarding his intentions.

However, McGinn, who is expected to eventually make the move to Celtic having entered the last year of his contract, admits pulling his boots on in the refuge of the club’s East Mains training base and in games has allowed him to distance himself from the 
clamour.

“It was really hard initially but when you’re on the football park, you forget,” said McGinn, who scored the first goal in the fraught draw in Greece as Hibs won 4-3 on aggregate to come through two successive European ties for the first time in 45 years and set up a third qualifying round clash with Norwegian side Molde.

“You’re walking along the street and everyone is asking you,” he said. “It’s no bother for the first few times but then it starts getting annoying. You just want to focus on your football and keep getting better and let things happen.

“It’s tough. I’ve never hidden from the fact that there will be a time that I move on but it will have to be the right time and the right moment but obviously that’s not come yet.

“Football is a great place to get away from things, and going over to Greece was amazing and I’ve loved it – it is basically getting away from all the talk.

“I know you try to ignore it but sometimes it’s impossible, but it’s been good to get a couple of results over the last couple of weeks and I’ve loved it. Even the boys at training just make light of it and, after one or two jokes, they just carry on as if nothing has happened.”

Lennon has been in McGinn’s shoes previously after a protracted transfer saga preceded his dream switch to Celtic from Leicester City in December 2000.

McGinn, therefore, is grateful for being able to confide in the Northern Irishman.

The dynamic playmaker, who will turn his attention to tomorrow’s Premiership opener against Motherwell at Easter Road, added: “I had a few discussions with the manager and he was great, he has been in this position himself.

“He is a really good guy to bounce things off and he said he was in this position when he was at Leicester and he wished he dealt with it a bit differently.

“Thankfully I’ve taken that advice on board and I need to keep improving.

“That’s what’s got me in this position and I want to carry that on and keep getting better as a player.”

Given the remaining length of McGinn’s current deal, it is likely that this season will be the 2016 Scottish Cup winner’s swansong in Leith.

He is adamant, however, that his performances will not 
suffer.

“I’m the kind of guy who always gives 100 per cent,” he added.

“I’m grateful for what this club has done for me and I love playing for Hibs – I never take that for granted.

“It’s nice to know you’re doing something right but at the same time I need to be respectful to Hibs.

“I’m their player and I’m under contract here and as long as I’m a Hibs players I will give 100 per cent.”