Hampden hero Conrad Logan has admitted Hibs fans would probably never have heard of him had Easter Road No.1 Mark Oxley not been ruled out of the Scottish Cup semi-final.
The 29-year-old, who hadn’t played for 16 months after rupturing his Achilles’ tendon, was an emergency signing by Alan Stubbs barely a fortnight ago after that bizarre booking for Oxley – yellow carded for time-wasting after he lost a contact lens – cost him his place against Dundee United.
Stubbs opted for the Irishman ahead of Finnish Under-21 internationalist Otso Virtanen despite Logan clearly being far from peak fitness. But the decision was fully vindicated as Logan earned the man-of-the-match award with a stunning performance.
Three times during a match which went into 30 minutes of extra-time, Logan, who had spent much of his time with English Premier League title-chasing Leicester City out on loan elsewhere, pulled off impressive one-on-one saves.
And he sent Hibs on their way to victory and a return to Hampden on May 21 to face Rangers by stopping United’s first two attempts as the tie was settled by way of a penalty shoot-out.
But, having come from nowhere to be the name on everyone’s lips, Logan conceded it was only that twist of fate which had allowed him a fairytale afternoon.
He said: “That’s football, there’s lots of stories of players being released or injured or suspensions. Different things happen in your career and I have had highs and lows in mine.
“I thanked the manager at the end of the game, I was very grateful for everything, for being given the opportunity to come up here and prove I could be playing in this game and then for him to play me – I was delighted with his decision.
“I wanted to go out there and prove to everybody he’d made the right decision. If it hadn’t worked out properly people would have been saying ‘he’s not the goalkeeper he was 16 months ago’.
“I was only told half-an-hour before we went out to warm up. I feel for Otso, he’s a young lad, a good goalkeeper but it was one of those decisions the manager had to make. Only one of us could play and I’m sure he will play plenty other games.
“He was disappointed but credit to him, he supported me in the warm-up – that’s what goalkeepers do and had it been the other way round I’d have done exactly the same.”
Logan accepted given the circumstances he could have ended up either the hero or the villain but, as he left clutching a bottle of champagne, he said: “That’s part and parcel of being a goalkeeper.
“You can make seven saves at 0-0 and then let one slip through your fingers. That’s the one everybody remembers and talks about, not the saves you have made.
“I like to think I have a decent record saving penalties and fortunately I stopped their first two. But then the other lads have to do their job which they did.”
Other than Logan’s performance, the big talking point was top scorer Jason Cummings’ horrific miss from the spot in the first half, the striker attempting an audacious chip only to send the ball over the bar.
Luckily it didn’t prove costly and, in a way, it presented Logan with his opportunity to grab the headlines. The goalkeeper said: “Jason is a young lad, confident and felt he could do what he was trying to do.
“It didn’t work out for him but he showed his character by stepping up to take what proved to be the winning penalty. It will stand him in good stead for the future. Had we lost questions would have been asked which might have affected him but he finished the game on a high.”
Now Logan is hoping he’s given Stubbs a headache for Wednesday night’s crucial Championship match against Rangers as Hibs attempt, once again, to reel in second-placed Falkirk, the head coach having insisted Oxley is his No.1.
He said: “It’s the manager’s decision, he’s the man who makes the call. I am ready to play on Wednesday, hopefully I’ve given him a bit of a decision to make.”