WHEN he celebrated his 21st birthday last month, John McGinn received one present he certainly didn’t anticipate.
“My mum bought me an iron,” he laughs. “I didn’t ask for it but I’m learning how to use it!”
The reason for Mrs McGinn’s choice of gift was her son’s decision to leave home for the first time and move into his own flat in Edinburgh. It is a change of lifestyle and environment the Scotland Under-21 captain credits for his sparkling form of recent weeks which has helped revitalise Hibs’ challenge for the Championship title.
“I really think moving through to the east has helped my form,” adds the former St Mirren midfielder. “I know it sounds a bit strange, but it has helped me mature on the pitch as well. Having the responsibility of doing everything for myself off the pitch has helped me grow up.
“The gaffer (Alan Stubbs) has also given me more responsibility on the pitch and not having to make that journey through from Glasgow every day, which was a nightmare, has also benefited me.
“I’ve got used to living away from home a lot quicker than I thought I would. I don’t know why women moan about the ironing!
“I’m cooking as well. I ask if the chef at Hibs training ground has any leftovers from lunch and sometimes I take them home for dinner, but if not I can go to the shops and cook for myself.”
Being part of a side racking up victories as regularly as Hibs currently are is a refreshing change for McGinn who was previously embroiled in a relegation struggle with St Mirren. It’s a habit he would like to take into Scotland’s European Under-21 Championship qualifier against Ukraine in Paisley this evening.
“I’ve not been used to winning as many games as we have at Hibs and I’m hoping that myself, Jason Cummings and Liam Henderson can take that confidence into the match against Ukraine,” he said. “This is a completely different experience to what I was used to at St Mirren. Wins were pretty special there.
“We’re enjoying them at Hibs, too, but we know that we need to keep this going but I think that we’ve developed the mentality which will help us to maintain it.
“Someone asked me the other day whether performances take priority over results at this level with Scotland. For me, performances are important but results are even more important. There’s no point in us playing well and losing 3-0. If we’re going to get any better then we need to develop a winning mentality. That’s what Gordon Strachan and the other coaches are trying to instil in us.”