Hibs: Ivan Sproule knows he can't rest on past glory

IVAN SPROULE today insisted he hadn't returned to Easter Road to live on past glories but in a bid to help drive Hibs on to future success.

The flying winger secured a second spell with the club where he made his name by signing a two-year deal to become manager Colin Calderwood's first signing of the summer.

And although admitting Hibs were undergoing a transitional period and had suffered a disappointing season, the 30-year-old predicted exciting times ahead as Calderwood continues his overhaul of the squad he inherited from John Hughes.

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Sproule, who has spent the past four years with English Championship outfit Bristol City, is streetwise enough to realise there will be those who view his return to Edinburgh with a degree of cynicism, claiming it's little more than a ploy to get disaffected supporters back on board.

But, he declared, nothing could be further from the truth, adamant his decision had been based on "purely football reasons" with his determination to repay Hibs having been plucked from the obscurity of Northern Ireland club Institute by former manager Tony Mowbray for just 5000 in 2005. A late arrival into the world of professional football at the age of 23, Sproule became a fans' favourite, the first Hibs player to score a hat-trick against Rangers at Ibrox in a century, representing his country and, under John Collins, helping the Capital side win the CIS Insurance Cup before making his 500,000 move to Ashton Gate.

Today, in an exclusive interview with the Evening News, Sproule underlined his desire to help restore the halcyon days when he could count the likes of Steven Whittaker, Garry O'Connor, Derek Riordan, Scott Brown and Kevin Thomson among his team-mates.

Those days, though, he insisted belonged to the history books, adamant it's only the future that counts. He said: "The past is the past. Those players have either moved down south or gone on to play for Rangers or Celtic. Now is the time for today's players at Hibs to write their own history.

"The one thing Hibs will always do is produce their own young players. Speaking to Colin Calderwood, I know he wants a brand of football which is exciting to watch. If you look at the average age of the Hibs side in the last few games of the season, they are a very young team.

"I watched matches last season when perhaps it wasn't the football side of things which let them down but experience and hopefully the introduction of a few old heads such as myself can help them along."

Although released by Bristol City, Sproule insisted there was still plenty of football - and his lightning pace - left in him, adamant that having picked up a string of man-of-the-match awards at the beginning of the season it was only a change in management when Steve Coppell left which led to him falling out of favour.

Revealing he's already asked for the No.?17 shirt which he wore first time round and insisted upon in the West Country, he said: "I know there are those who will question why I'm back at Hibs. I had offers to stay in England and could have done so but I've always wanted to come back to Hibs and I believe this is the right time.

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"It's been done purely for footballing reasons and I know that Colin Calderwood has signed me not because of what happened here in the past but having made his judgment on what he has seen me do in England.

"The manager wants genuine pace in the side - and there was still no-one quicker than me at Bristol City."

• HIBS have announced a string of pre-season friendlies. They kick-off at Berwick Rangers on Saturday, July 2 (3.00pm) before playing Livingston at the Braidwood Motors Stadium on Tuesday, July 5 (7.45pm); East Fife at New Bayview on Saturday, July 9 (3.00pm) and Falkirk at Falkirk Stadium on Tuesday, July 19 (7.30pm).