GRAHAM STACK revealed today that he left his heart in Edinburgh when he quit Easter Road – and is planning on returning to the Scottish capital at the end of his playing career.
The former Hibs goalkeeper had hoped that he would be offered a new deal at the end of last season, but instead was disappointed to be told that he was surplus to requirements.
While Hibs boss Pat Fenlon turned to former Colchester United stopper Ben Williams, Irish Under-21 international Stack picked himself up and joined League Two outfit Barnet.
Stack was – and still is – a popular character with the Hibs supporters and has fond memories of the three years that he spent with the club.
He revealed that he would love to move back to Edinburgh in the next few years, whether that be as a player, a coach or just as a resident.
Stack said: “My relationship with the supporters in Edinburgh was brilliant and I still keep in touch with a lot of them – and have a bit of banter with them and the Hearts fans on Facebook and Twitter.
“I loved it up there and my wife and my family were really settled in Edinburgh too.
“It’s a great club and a great place to bring the kids up.
“Looking at the bigger picture, we have already spoken about it and we definitely want to go back there, whether it is to play football or just to live.
“The city really made an impression on us, we lived in Edinburgh for three years, so you start to feel like it’s your home. We had a good network of friends as well.
“I was always coming into contact with supporters, whether it was the postman, someone at the girls’ school or just a guy in the local supermarket.
“I love all of that. It might be a city, but it is a small community at the same time and it’s very much a footballing community.
“I lived in Murrayfield, which is closer to Tynecastle than Easter Road, and it was funny sometimes. I love the rivalry between the two clubs.
“The fans were the big thing though. They were good to me and I like to think that I gave them something back.
“I like to think that I gave them my time and always stopped to talk to them or have a laugh and I like to think that they liked me.”
Having said all that though, Stack concedes that he is loving life south of the Border right now.
The switch to Barnet has seen him move closer to friends and family and, having settled the kids into their new school, he has started preparing for the arrival of his fourth child with wife Natalie in January.
The Bees are the 31-year-old’s 11th club of his senior career, and Stack admits that he is now content to settle in a football sense.
He added: “I love the fact that we are closer to our families and parents.
“I’m only half an hour away from the training ground, I’m only half an hour away from the stadium and the club has got beautiful new training facilities.
“For the last eight years it seems all I have done is move around, really, but I’ve reached the stage now where I am 31 and I want to be settled. I want a bit of stability.
“I don’t want to be taking the kids from pillar to post.
“In football now you never know what is going to happen, so you have got to brace yourself and be prepared for whatever it throws at you, really.
“At my age, and with the way that things are financially, three-year deals are no longer there. Clubs are cutting their cloth and don’t want to be tying themselves down to long-term contracts, so you’re generally looking at one-year deals.
“That doesn’t really give you any stability and it can be quite unsettling because you know that after six months or so, you’re going to start wondering if you’re going to have your deal renewed.
“At the end of the day though, I have got a lot of friends who have been unable to find clubs, so I count myself lucky in that respect.
“Barnet have got aspirations, they are in the process of building a new stadium, they have got a beautiful training ground and to top it all off, Edgar Davids has just joined us, so things are looking good.”
The 39-year-old midfielder, right, is the Bees’ new joint-player manager and Stack believes that the mere presence of the legendary Dutchman in training and in games has seen standards rise at the club.
He continued: “To have someone of his quality, who was arguably one of the best players of his era, join a club like Barnet is just fantastic.
“He has played for the likes of Juventus, AC Milan and Ajax, played in World Cups and at the top level in European competition. He has brought so much experience to the club and has so much to offer the lads.
“I think that since he has been involved everyone has raised their game.
“Standards have been set and all of the lads are working really hard to meet them. I am no different, I am trying really hard to make a positive impression and give the manager what he is after.”
While he is busy trying to make his mark under Davids, the goalkeeper is also hoping to find time to travel to Easter Road in the next few months to take in a Hibs game as a supporter and still follows the results of his old club closely.
He has seen a huge change in both solidity and positivity surrounding the club since the arrival of Pat Fenlon.
Having worked under management teams that included John Hughes, Colin Calderwood, Billy Brown and Derek Adams before the Irishman took charge, he is delighted that Hibs appear to have found a long-term appointment in Fenlon.
Stack continued: “The Hibs result is one of the first ones that I look for on a Saturday after a game. I always keep a close eye on the SPL and especially how Hibs are doing.
“It’s great to see that they have turned things around a bit from last season and the fact that there is more stability in terms of the manager, really helps.
“I know that last season he had a lot of players in at the club on loan, but this season he has got a few of his own in, so think he is really starting to make an impression.”
One of the biggest disappointments of his Hibs career was missing out on the Scottish Cup final last season – and then having to sit in the stand and see the club’s supporters subjected to a 5-1 hammering from their rivals Hearts at Hampden.
Stack had played 35 games for the club that season, only to suffer a serious thigh muscle injury in the semi-final of the competition against Aberdeen.
As it turned out, that injury meant he had also saved his last ball for Hibs too.
Stack recalled: “That was an awful time and the final itself was probably the biggest disappointment of my career so far.
“The injury itself was a huge blow for me, but after it happened, at least I had a few weeks to get used to the fact that I wouldn’t be playing.
“The way it worked out on the day was so tough to take. I was sitting in the stand and pretty much useless, but even though I wasn’t playing it still hurt.
“Knowing that we had let the supporters down like that was devastating.”