Hibs Cult Heroes: Part One; Best Foreigners

Colleen Strachan profiles some of the top imports to have graced Easter Road

Franck Sauzee

MENTION the words Hibs and 'cult hero' in the same sentence and the name Franck Sauzee instantly springs to mind.

The Frenchman was revered by all who saw him play in the green-and-white shirt and won himself an army of lifelong fans with his calm, assured displays for the Easter Road side.

Sauzee started his career in his homeland, winning the European Cup during his second spell with Marseille in 1992 and three times becoming French League champions with the same club, but he is most fondly remembered in Scotland for his time in Edinburgh with Hibs.

Alex McLeish signed Sauzee from Montpellier in February 1999 and he proved to be a popular acquisition courtesy of his classy performances.

Already known for his shooting power from the middle of the park, Sauzee switched from midfield to a sweeper's role and was nicknamed 'Le God' for his consistent displays, no matter where he played.

Sauzee, who was capped 39 times for France, was handed the captain's armband by McLeish, and went on to skipper the side for the next three years.

Under his guidance as captain Hibs, who had been relegated to the First Division just the year before, regained their place in the Scottish Premier League and went on to reach the 2001 Scottish Cup Final. Hibs finished third in the league that same season, capping a memorable campaign by qualifying for the UEFA Cup.

Hibs never lost a single game against Hearts when Sauzee was playing and one of the highest points in his derby career was when he scored with a header in the 3-1 win over the Jambos in March 2000, despite being knocked unconscious and losing his front teeth in the process.

Unfortunately, Sauzee's Hibs career did not end on a high.

He hung up his boots when he was appointed manager of the Easter Road side following the departure of McLeish in December 2001, becoming the first foreign coach in the history of the club.

However his reign lasted just 69 days after recording just one win in 15 matches and he was relieved of his duties on 21 February. Sauzee now works as a football pundit for a French television station.

John Madsen

JOHN MADSEN lit up the Hibs side of the 60s and played his part in one of the most memorable run of games Hibs have ever been on.

The Danish international lined-up alongside the likes of Pat Stanton, Jimmy O'Rourke and Eric Stevenson as the Easter Road side finished third in the league table, behind only the Old Firm, and defied the odds to take Europe by storm in 1967. Hibs' Inter Cities Fairs Cup campaign started with a 4-3 aggregate win over Porto but it was against Napoli that the Edinburgh side hit the headlines.

They were thrashed 4-1 in Italy, but then turned Napoli over 5-0 in the return leg at Easter Road. Leeds United were next up for Madsen and co and their European adventure. They lost 1-0 at Elland Road and could only draw 1-1 at Easter Road which brought their dramatic Euro campaign to an end. A year later Madsen put in an outstanding performance against Hamburg in the Volksparkstadion - again in the Fairs Cup - to keep World Cup star Uwe Seeler in his back pocket for much of the match and help his side to return facing only a one-goal deficit.

Ulrik Laursen

ULRIK LAURSEN signed for Hibs on a free transfer in 2000 – and it proved to be one of the shrewdest moves Alex McLeish made as manager of the club.

The big defender was only at Easter Road for two years but became a firm favourite with the club's supporters with his no-nonsense approach. Standing 6ft 3ins tall, he had huge physical presence and slotted in effortlessly alongside the likes of Franck Sauzee and Mathias Jack in the Hibs backline. He was part of the Hibs side which reached the Scottish Cup Final against Celtic in 2001, although they went on to lose 3-0 to the Parkhead side in the Hampden showpiece.

Ironically, almost exactly a year later, Laursen disappointed thousands of Hibs supporters by putting pen to paper on a 1.5?million move to the Hoops.

Abdesallam Benjelloun

ABDESALLAM BENJELLOUN won his place in the hearts of the Hibs support for his double which helped cllinch League Cup glory in 2007 but the

Moroccan striker – nicknamed 'Benji' – had a frustrating career at Easter Road.

When the striker was on top of his game, though, he could be a joy to watch. The highlight of his time in Edinburgh came when he scored two goals in the 5-1 win over Kilmarnock which saw Hibs lift the CIS Insurance Cup at Hampden, their first piece of silverware in 16 years.

He had two loans spells with clubs in Belgium before pictures emerged of the striker apparently signing a contract with Egyptian side Al Ahly, although that deal was eventually cancelled just a few days later. Benjelloun had to eat humble pie on his return to Easter Road before he was eventually being released by Hibs at the end of the 2009-10 season.

Mixu Paatelainen

MIXU PAATELAINEN may have scored 39 goals during his two spells with Hibs but he'll always be best remembered by Easter Road supporters for his hat-trick in the 6-2 win over Hearts in 2000.

The flying Finn initially signed for Hibs in 1998 from Wolverhampton Wanderers, having already played in Scotland with Dundee United and Aberdeen in the late eighties and early nineties.

In his first season with the club, Paatelainen hit the back of the net 12 times, helping Hibs win promotion back into the top flight in 1999 after a year in the First Division.

But, if the big striker was popular in that campaign, he guaranteed himself hero status by bagging three of the six goals in the Edinburgh derby rout at Easter Road the following year, David Zitelli, John O'Neil and Russell Latapy also adding their names to the scoresheet.

Although he left in 2001 for a spell with Strasbourg, he was re-signed for Hibs by Bobby Williamson although this time he combined his duties with coaching the youth sides.

That post lasted just over a year before adding to his coaching experience with St Johnstone and St Mirren. He became a manager in his own right with Cowdenbeath in 2005, before moving on to Finnish outfit TPS Turku. His Hibs journey was complete when he returned to the club in 2008, although a poor run of results the following year saw the Hibs fans calling for his head and he was sacked after only 18 months in the hotseat.