Hibs ace Jorge Claros today insisted he’s ready for his first Edinburgh ‘Clasico’, believing it will be every bit as passionate as the derbies he played in back home in Honduras.
The midfielder spent seven years experiencing cross-city rivalry between his club Motagua and neighbours Olimpia in Tegucigalpa, with the championship itself often at stake in the ‘Clasico Capitalino’.
Now he’s looking forward to locking horns with Hearts at Tynecastle on Sunday, confident the day will live up to his expectations.
The 26-year-old said: “These are the games you want to play in – just like the Clasicos with Motagua and Olimpia. In those matches everyone would be fired up for the game and every match would be very intense and colourful with flares in the crowd.
“In games between Motagua and Olimpia, not only local pride was at stake, but also the championship because those two clubs are the most successful in Honduras.”
And Claros, capped 31 times by Honduras, underlined the importance of those clashes, saying: “My happiest derby moment so far was in my first season with Motagua when I was 20 and we won the championship by beating Olimpia.
“It was a capital city Clasico, very passionate and exciting and a game every player wants to be part of.”
Claros has, of course, heard plenty about the Edinburgh derby from fans after arriving at Hibs two months ago, a surprise signing by boss Pat Fenlon after a successful trial period with Rangers ended with no offer of a contract.
Nicknamed Pitbull, Claros has already become a firm favourite with the Easter Road support with the popularity rating of both him and his team-mates likely to soar should they break Hearts run of nine derbies without defeat this weekend.
He said: “I’m as excited about playing for Hibs against Hearts as I was when Motagua played Olimpia. The fans have been very kind to me and I understand how important this match is to all Hibs supporters. Every time I meet a Hibs fan they wish me luck for the derby and tell me how much they want to win. I would love to give something back to them and help us to get a memorable result.
“The fans chanted my name at Ayr on Saturday and it was something I was very proud of. I feel a connection with the Hibs fans and I feel like I’m part of a big family.”
Claros, however, warned that passion alone won’t be enough on the day. He said: “Games are won by playing well and not by talking about football.
“It is up to us to stand up, stick to the manager’s gameplan and stay competitive to the end.”