Yesterday, 106-year-old Sam Martinez finally got his hands on the Scottish Cup following decades of heartache – and he couldn’t have been happier.
The diehard fan, who has followed Hibs ever since he came to Scotland from his native Belize in 1945, was snapped grinning from ear-to-ear as he hugged and kissed the gleaming trophy at Easter Road.
He watched the boys in green triumph from Hampden’s South Stand in May after bagging a complimentary ticket from big-hearted Hibs bosses – fulfilling a lifelong dream.
The unforgettable day out was organised by his carer, James Lawrie, who even managed to secure a cab from Penicuik Taxis to take the pensioner to and from the national stadium.
And yesterday Mr Lawrie, who works for Bluebird Care, put the final cherry on the cake by arranging for Mr Martinez to visit the cup he had waited so long to see his team lift.
The 45-year-old said: “It was amazing. We were on the pitchside with the cup, and we got to hug and kiss it. It was such a great day.
“He showed us where his first seat was, when he first came to Easter Road. It was behind the dugout. He remembers everything. He’s such a special guy – it’s a pleasure to look after him.
“When we won the cup, everybody was just cuddling him and kissing him. I cried my eyes out for days. When the final whistle went, and we won, I just cried and cried.
“I couldn’t sleep [the night before going to see the cup]. It was like waiting for Santa to come. I want to thank Hibs from the bottom of my heart for everything they’ve done for Sam.”
Mr Martinez celebrated his 106th birthday in February and previously told the News he had never lost hope his team would take home the Scottish Cup in his lifetime.
These days the pensioner rarely attends matches, but is still an avid football follower. Family members revealed he repeatedly watched Hibs’ cup final triumph over Rangers in the days following the win.
Daughter Carol Martinez said her dad had been “really excited and happy” before yesterday’s trip. She added: “Imagine all those years that he’s waited to see that cup. He’s absolutely delighted.”
A Hibs spokesman said: “We were delighted to give Sam the opportunity to see the Scottish Cup in person after such a long time supporting the club.
“The victory has brought a lot of happiness to all our supporters, and they all love getting their hands on the trophy.
“Sam has persevered for so many years following the club, and it was great to see how happy he was to finally see the green and white ribbons and ‘Hibernian FC’ on the trophy.”