Colin Nish has gone back to the future, returning to Hibs to help coach the wannabe stars of tomorrow.
And although he’s very much more in the background working with the club’s Under-14s than he was as a striker at Easter Road, the 35-year-old insists he’s loving every minute.
Sacked from his role as player-manager with Cowdenbeath following their relegation to League Two last summer, Nish put in a speculative call to Hibs academy manager Eddie May, a former team-mate from their days together with Dunfermline, asking if “there was anything doing”.
Initially there wasn’t but May soon offered Nish the chance to work with the Under-14s and altough he admits it’s totally different to working with time-served professionals he believes it’s also an opportunity to improve his own skills as a coach.
He said: “When you are in charge of a first team you are trying to coach them as a team, with the youngsters it’s more about developing them as individuals. You have to coach kids a lot more, teaching them different things, watching them practise and to see them thinking about things and improving.
“Things are obviously a bit slower but you perhaps get the chance to see things you maybe wouldn’t taking a first team. I have to admit I’m actually enjoying it a lot more than I thought I would, it’s a learning curve for me as well.”
Recalling his own days as a young hopeful, Nish said: “I was probably training with Hutchie Vale a couple of times a week and would maybe go and train with Dunfermline or Hibs one night a week.
“Having the training centre at East Mains makes a big difference, the place is open practically 24/7.
“The facilities are great, we’ve got the boys in three nights a week, they are really well looked after. They also have their game on a Sunday so although I’m part-time it’s pretty much full-time.”
Nish has also become involved with Hibs’ development squad working not only with May but coaches Grant Murray, Lee Makel and Chris Smith, while he’s had the obvious opportunity to watch Neil Lennon and his assistant Garry Parker put their Championship-leading squad through their paces.
He said: “I think as a player you become pretty selfish, all you have to think about is yourself and when I was playing you didn’t really see the youngsters at a club.
“It wasn’t something you’d think about, your concentration was all on getting into the team and doing well enough to stay in it.
“We think we’ve got some good players coming through so it will be good to see where they are in four or five years.
“There’s one of the coaches here who looks at the development squad and he tells me he can remember a number of them at Under-13s.”
Nish, naturally, doesn’t see himself being an Under-14 coach forever. He is looking to complete his UEFA Pro-Licence having already completed his A badge.
And to that end, he insists his experience at Cowdenbeath hasn’t scarred him, promoted to player-manager after Jimmy Nicholl resigned.
He said: “I started doing my coaching badges while I was still playing and intended trying to get into management.
“It came about a lot quicker than I expected. I was there as a player and was going to be there anyway so it was something I felt I couldn’t refuse.
“We finished above Forfar who are now top of League Two and only one point from avoidng the relegation play-off spot so, in hindsight, I think I did a reasonable job given the circumstances.
“It was quite an experience but now I am lucky to be able to continue learning and developing back at Hibs.”