Ofir Marciano embarks on a new season today buoyed by the sense of warmth and contentment he has discovered in his first year at Hibs.
Following a fruitful Championship-winning season on loan at Easter Road, the Israeli international goalkeeper now has the security of a four-year contract at a club with which he has developed a strong bond. Protracted negotiations with his previous club Ashdod – whom he was initially signed to until next summer – eventually resulted in Hibs and Marciano getting the desired outcome towards the end of June as the popular 27-year-old was brought to Edinburgh on a permanent basis.
“There were long discussions but I am happy that the clubs agreed finally and I want to say thank you to Ashdod for everything they did for me and for accepting the offer from Hibs,” said Marciano.
“I was always confident it would get sorted because I wanted to be here and the club wanted me. When these two things happen, there is a good chance it will go in the right direction.
“I think Hibs is a good club for my career to develop at. It’s a good place with many good people who I really connect with. They treat me well here, and that’s something you cannot disrespect because it is not always the case in football. That is one of the reasons I wanted to come back. Apart from that, it is a big club with great fans.”
Marciano, who endured a difficult season on loan in Belgium prior to arriving in Edinburgh last summer, has found serenity on and off the pitch during his time in Scotland. In addition to things going swimmingly in his professional life, he is excited by the prospect of welcoming his first child in October.
“Edinburgh is a great place – a great city to live and to raise kids,” he said. “We really like it here. Soon I will have a family – so things are different for me now. I now need to consider other things that I didn’t have to think about before I was married.
“The most important thing is that I’m feeling good and am happy. In life and in football – that is the most important thing. I feel good and my wife likes it here, so I really appreciate being here.”
Playing regularly for Hibs last term helped Marciano get back into the Israel squad after a short spell in the international wilderness. He believes that playing in the Scottish Premiership will further enhance his chances of donning the gloves for his country.
“I’ve had some really good times in my career and achieved a lot of things but I like British football,” he said. “I think Hibs is a really good platform for me. In terms of the national team, hopefully it will help me if I am playing regularly in the top league in Scotland.”
Working under highly-regarded goalkeeping coach Alan Combe on a daily basis has also helped Marciano bed into life at Hibs.
“He is great to work with,” said the Israeli. “He is a great coach and a great person.
“I am really happy that I have him here. I feel that he will lead me in the right direction and make me a better goalie every day. I really appreciate him.”
Marciano is likely to be between the sticks as Hibs begin their competitive season at home to Montrose in the Betfred Cup this afternoon, with the Easter Road side’s eagerly-awaited Premiership opener at home to Partick Thistle in three weeks time.
While there has been plenty talk in recent months about Hibs gatecrashing the Europa League places on their first season back in the top flight after a three-year absence, Marciano remains of a pragmatic mindset.
“It’s too soon to be talking about targets,” he said. “I think we need to think week by week and game by game and then see where it’s going to lead us. When you think any further ahead than the next game, that is when you lose focus.
“We are a big club – one of the biggest clubs in Scotland – and people know that, so there is no fear about going into the top league. It is our natural place to be in the top league but we need to prove every week that we deserve to be there.”