John McGinn has been overwhelmed by the adulation he’s received from the Hibs fans over the past season and the revered Scottish Cup-winning midfielder insists he has no plans to walk out on them this summer.
The Hibbies have revelled in belting out the “Super John McGinn” song, in which he his hailed as “better than Zidane” to the tune of Billy Ray Cyrus’ Achey Breaky Heart. The humble 21-year-old, who is currently on Scotland duty, admitted he was taken aback by the sight of thousands of jubilant fans singing his name as the team’s open-top bus made its way from the City Chambers to Leith Links last Sunday.
“I can’t remember exactly where the bus stopped, but there was one point when there must have been around 80,000 people chanting my name,” he said. “It was surreal and probably the best moment I’ve ever had in football. I get a bit embarrassed by the song, to be honest. There were plenty of players on that bus more deserving of a song than me. I was just delighted for people like Paul Hanlon, Lewis Stevenson and my big mate Darren McGregor, especially. They’re all Hibs supporters and I could see them getting quite emotional going down Leith Walk. That trophy was for them.
“I had one sent to me of the singer Wagner doing it. The strangest one was in Sainsbury’s in Meadowbank. There was a woman and her grown-up daughter who just started belting it out. That was a strange moment. That was definitely embarrassing with the whole supermarket staring at me! I’ve not been back in since. Having the song is mad. I get sent videos of it all the time and I lost my voice singing along to it on Sunday. It’s one of the reasons you play football, to make people happy. I need to make the most of it.”
McGinn was thrilled to see the reaction of his parents as he won the second major trophy of his fledgling career following his League Cup success with St Mirren in 2013. “My Mum gets a bit carried away,” he said. “She beams with pride. She walked into the stadium on Sunday with my top on. I gave that and the medal to her in case I lost or ruined them because I did a Klinsmann along the changing-room floor after the match, so I didn’t want to do them any damage! I looked out on to Leith Walk from the bus and I saw her there in my top. She doesn’t sing the song. Her and my dad like to keep my feet on the ground.”
McGinn admits the sea of green and white he witnessed on the streets of Leith on Sunday underlined the magnitude of what he and his colleagues had achieved in helping Hibs win the Scottish Cup for the first time since 1902. The 3-2 victory over Rangers in the final ensures all those involved will hold a permanent place in club folklore.
“It’s something that we knew was there for the taking – we just had to go and grasp it,” said McGinn. “I think it was clear to see, even at 2-1 down, that we were determined to get ourselves a winner’s medal. We wanted to write ourselves into history. I think it all sunk in on the parade on Sunday. We went down Leith Walk and if you turned round, every single square of concrete was covered by supporters. Plenty of them were crying. You know what it means to the people of Leith and Edinburgh. It shows what a victory like this can do for them. It also lets you see the kind of potential that this club has. We need to use this as a springboard to better things. Hopefully we can go on and win the Scottish Cup again.”
Since leaving St Mirren to join Hibs last summer, McGinn has earned Scotland recognition, Hibs’ player-of-the-year award and a Scottish Cup winner’s medal. He has no regrets about signing for a Championship club and insists he has no qualms about spending another campaign in the second tier, even though there is likely to be interest from elsewhere. “I think my decision was vindicated a while back,” he said. “Alan Stubbs told me he’d make me a better player and I am. I felt like I’d play in high-pressure games and I have, though even I didn’t think I’d get to play in two national cup finals so quickly. It’s such a great club and I’m proud to be part of it.
“I’ve got three years left on my contract and this is a club going in the right direction. Unless someone tells me otherwise I’ll be part of the club moving forward. We’re looking to build on this success. If we can get a tenth of the people who came out for the parade to come to games then it would make a massive difference to the club. Days like Sunday won’t be a one-off then. We certainly wouldn’t have to wait another 114 years. It hasn’t done any of us any harm to play in the Championship because we’ve played in big, high-pressure games all the time. I’m just delighted to be part of this club.”
Although his domestic season is finished, McGinn is not ready to hang his boots up for the summer just yet. Despite playing 53 matches already, the midfielder is now hoping get some more game time on Scotland duty. He is in Malta just now ahead of tomorrow’s friendly with Italy in Valletta and will remain with the squad for next weekend’s game against France in Metz.
“I always look forward to the Scotland games,” he said. “I must be nearing 60 games but I wouldn’t change that for the world. You want to play in big games. I’d rather have 53 games than two. I actually got cramp for the first time in a game in the final, so I was delighted it didn’t go to extra time. Hopefully winning the cup can be a confidence booster going into the games. I’ll be able to stick my chest out and know I’ve done something special.”