Sad at leaving, but happy for the opportunity Hibs lent him. Victor Palsson’s year-long stay at Easter Road rarely passed without talking points, but after the Iceland under-21 internationalist and his club agreed 48 hours ago to go their separate ways, the defender believes his time in Edinburgh was a largely positive experience.
After impressing the Hibs fans soon after signing from Liverpool with strong, combative displays in centre midfield, Palsson’s influence latterly waned – due in part, says the player, to being deployed in defence.
Ultimately, it was manager Pat Fenlon’s arrival as a replacement for the sacked Colin Calderwood that spelled the end for 20-year-old Palsson, who agreed a termination of an 18-month contract after a year at Hibs and who now walks alongside the growing army of out-of-work footballers.
“I want to thank Hibs and the fans for a great 12 months – they were great. I’m quite sad to be leaving,” Palsson said in an exclusive interview with the Evening News.
“It was 12 months where I got games and it was my first season of first-team football, so I’m quite happy, to be fair. Obviously, while Colin Calderwood was here it was a better time – he was the one who brought me and believed in me. Unfortunately, with the way football works, a new manager sometimes comes in and doesn’t fancy you, but I respect Pat Fenlon’s decision. I didn’t want to leave Hibs, but it is just something that didn’t work out.
“Playing 30-odd games and being at Hibs is going to help me in future. Scottish football is not bad, and I found it really enjoyable.
“I’m going to miss my friends and the city as well, many of the staff at Hibs. It’s a good club and hopefully things will turn around. I have some good friends: Graham Stack and David Stephens – those two particularly I’m going to miss a lot as I’m really close to them.”
Despite his tender years, Palsson is now a veteran of four senior clubs, although first-team football was limited with Liverpool, Aarhus and Dagenham (on loan), but he has developed a thick skin to deal with disappointment. Although he was happy with his personal performance in his most recent and, ultimately, final outing in the derby defeat to Hearts ten days ago, he knew his days were numbered under Irishman Fenlon, who it is understood, has plans to recruit substantially in the coming weeks and months.
“I only played four games while Pat Fenlon was there.
“I felt after the derby game where I played in midfield that things had turned around – I hadn’t been performing, but I did really well in that game. But, when the manager has his own players coming in, there’s nothing you can do. I am just trying to be positive.”
In September past, just weeks into what should have been his first full season at Hibs, Palsson, by that time not the dominant midfield force he had been and with a tendency to drift out of games, hit the headlines off the pitch after a regrettable incident at the Why Not? nightclub in Edinburgh city centre. Having been advised at the time not to speak about the incident that led to a six-month ban from nightclubs in the city, Palsson was today keen to convey his remorse through the Evening News.
“Obviously the thing that happened on the night out was really silly and I regret that, and I want to say sorry. I want to use this interview and say I’m sorry to all the fans for disappointing them. It’s not sporting behaviour whatsoever.”
That regrettable episode aside, the player retains many happy memories from the chapter of his career spent in Edinburgh. After savouring his home debut in a 2-0 win over St Mirren a week after first pulling on the green and white of Hibs in a 3-0 defeat at Dundee United, Palsson converted a penalty that proved the winning goal in a 2-1 win at home to Kilmarnock in mid-February last year.
It was the marquee games and last season’s winning run, however, that will remain freshest in his mind.
“It was fantastic playing at Parkhead and Ibrox in front of 40-60,000 people. The derby games were also fantastic, the results weren’t the best, but the atmosphere was great.
“Last season we got the five wins in a row [in February and March] which saved us from relegation – that must be the highlight. Last season, I helped the team in the second half of the season, but it would have been nice to do that again this year. Unfortunately, I was playing out of position a lot of the time, so that didn’t really help.”
A Hibs squad without Palsson can, if augmented by some new signings, improve its results as the “business end” of 2011/12 approaches. So says the now-departed Icelander, who is confident his old mates can turn around the fortunes of the club.
“Hopefully they can go as far as possible. We’ve got the players to turn things around, hopefully he’ll bring in some decent players to change things. I think things can change for the better. I don’t want to say what they need – that’s not really my place now.”
With his mother in Liverpool, and a sister, with whom he is close, in Iceland, Palsson has ties that may pull him towards a number of destinations. It will become clear in the coming weeks whether or not he returns to England and follows the path from Edinburgh recently trodden by fellow Icelander Eggert Jonsson, who earlier this month moved to Wolves from Hearts, or chooses to go back to Scandinavia, where he played in Denmark.
Palsson has in the past spoken of his desire to settle somewhere after short or broken spells at Aarhus, Liverpool and on loan at Dagenham. However, as a footballer out of work and who doesn’t turn 21 until April, his priority now is just to further his football education, wherever that may be.
“I’ve got some interest from the UK and Scandinavia and we’ll wait and see what happens,” he said. “I don’t think there will be a problem. I like Scotland and if there’s something there then great. But, I don’t really have any preference. I’m just hoping to find a decent club. I’m not really thinking about the next four-five years, I just want somewhere where I can become a better footballer.