Lewis Stevenson was humbled by the turnout for his testimonial dinner, but the Hibs left-back admits the adulation he received left him squirming at times.
The grounded 28-year-old is never one to seek the limelight, but he found himself cast as the main man at the Corn Exchange last Saturday night as 950 people turned out to honour him for more than a decade’s service at Easter Road in which he has become the only player in the club’s history to win both the League Cup and the Scottish Cup.
The night included a performance from The Proclaimers, as well as a video tribute from some of his former managers and current boss Neil Lennon, who was in attendance.
“It was a nice night and everyone I’ve spoken to has said it was really good, so that’s the most important thing,” said Stevenson. “A lot of money was raised for charity as well, which was good. I usually like to take a back seat at these things, but it’s hard when it’s your own testimonial!
“It is pretty mental when you see people talking about you, and about being the only player to win the two cups. I don’t think there’s that many players who have had a testimonial at Hibs, so it is really nice. It was really humbling to see all the support and hear the nice words people had to say, but it was a bit surreal seeing your name and your face plastered everywhere. The whole way through it I felt embarrassed. Just seeing the videos and everyone talking about you, like old managers and the manager now, sometimes it’s off-putting when you see people saying so many nice things about you. I’ve had a few things that haven’t been as nice in the past and I almost find that easier to take than when people say nice things about me!”
The presence of The Proclaimers, who are Hibs supporters, added to the occasion for Stevenson. “It was unbelievable that they played,” he said. “They’ve been selling out gigs for years, all over the world, so it was really nice and humbling for them to come and play at my testimonial. I thought it was me they were starstruck about seeing but I think it was when they saw the Scottish Cup! They were buzzing with that. They were amazing and I think they made the night. The boys have been pretty supportive as well, there were some nice messages from them as well.”
Stevenson admits the This Is Your Life nature of the night made it feel like “a farewell kind of thing”. However, he is determined to ensure that he remains at Hibs for a good while longer. The defender’s contract expires at the end of this season but that scenario is nothing new for a player who has had to prove himself under nine different managers.
“There have been times when I haven’t been playing and I’ve had to knuckle down, and I have ended up working my way into the team,” he said. “There have been a few times when I’ve maybe gone to the wire to get a new contract at the end of the season, which has worked out all right. But it can change pretty quickly, even if you’re playing, like I am just now. The manager can get different ideas or you could suffer a loss of form. I don’t want to sound negative but it can change really quickly, so you just have to perform day in, day out in training and week in, week out in games.
“It’s the old cliche but you just take every game as it comes. After my first game, I thought ‘that was good, what happens now?’. Then you get to 50 and then 100, and now I’m at over 300, which is mental. It’s something I don’t want to take for granted, because I know how quickly football can change.”
Stevenson has considered life away from Easter Road in the past when things haven’t looked so promising for him, but he is obviously thrilled at the way things have transpired.
“Maybe in my head I was thinking about different things but, luckily for me, it never got as far as looking for something else,” he said. “I’m sure there will be a time when I have to do that. It’s still the start of the season, I’ve still got nine months left, so I’m not really wanting to talk about new contracts at this time.”