Hibernian captain James McPake has urged his team-mates to match the passion of their supporters who will pay tribute to Easter Road great Lawrie Reilly when Malmo visit on Europa League duty tonight.
A minute’s applause will be held before the second qualifying round second leg in memory of Reilly, who scored 238 goals for Hibs and helped them to three league titles in the early post-war period, leading the club’s ‘Famous Five’ forward line. He died aged 84 in the early hours of Monday.
A fuller tribute will be paid to the former Scotland centre-forward, who netted five goals in Wembley clashes with England, when Motherwell visit Leith in the Scottish Premiership opener.
But Easter Road will be an emotional place tonight as Hibs fans gather for the first time since Reilly’s death.
McPake is aiming to take inspiration from Reilly, who scored 22 goals in 38 internationals.
“He was such a legend and such a hero to so many of the people that come here,” McPake said.
“The fans will be here paying tribute to Lawrie and that’s only going to help us with emotion and the atmosphere.
“It’s something we have got to react to and use.”
McPake added: “I had the pleasure of being in his company at a good few events through the club.
“The last time I met him was April and even then he was in good form, he was joking away. We had lost to St Johnstone the night before and he was having a bit of a go at me for the way we had played.
“That was Lawrie, he was great to everyone and we were all glad when he was round the place.
“We were all deeply saddened by the news at the start of the week.
“But it’s spurring us on a bit because we want to go out and do it for him and his family.”
Manager Pat Fenlon labelled Reilly “a gentleman” and added: “It’s been a very sad and difficult week for everyone associated with the club. He was obviously one of the best players the club has ever had.
“If you’re looking for a true Hibs man through and through, he fits the bill.
“It would be a nice way to pay real tribute to his memory if we can go and win the game.
“It would be lovely to put a smile back on people’s faces.
“We’ve got a tough task but we are playing at home and we’re looking forward to a big crowd getting behind us here.
“If we can nick the first goal, let’s see what happens.”
Fenlon refused to comment on the club’s pursuit of Swindon striker James Collins. Hibs are reportedly in talks with the 22-year-old Irishman, who scored 18 goals last season, after having a bid accepted.