Efe Ambrose tips John McGinn to handle potential Hibs-Celtic switch
No player in the Hibs dressing-room is more acutely aware of the demands that come with representing Celtic than Efe Ambrose.
Should John McGinn require guidance regarding the suffocating pressure and lofty expectations which go hand-in-hand with pulling on the Hoops, the affable Ambrose will be on hand to offer counsel.
The Nigerian internationalist enjoyed soaring highs during five largely successful years in Glasgow, claiming six major honours, registering an iconic victory against Barcelona and reaching the last 16 of the Champions League.
He also endured painful lows, at times becoming a figure of fun – often unfairly – due to a penchant for high-profile errors which marred otherwise impressive displays.
However, Ambrose has no doubt in his mind that, should McGinn make the move west, he will meet the challenge of becoming a mainstay with Brendan Rodgers’ double treble winners.
“I think John can make the step up,” said the 29-year-old. “He has the quality and the ability to succeed at Celtic.
“If he does get there then he will need to battle for his place because it’s not easy at a club like Celtic.
“There are quality players all around you and they will all want to play. So he will have to fight.
“Celtic is a place that comes with huge responsibility and the fans are special. If he does join them, then that is just football and we would wish him well – but he can succeed there.”
Celtic had an initial £1.5 million bid for the Scotland star rejected on Monday evening but fully intend to test Hibs’ resolve again.
McGinn has just 12 months to run on his current deal, making Neil Lennon’s initial valuation of £5 million somewhat optimistic. Nevertheless, the Easter Road hierarchy are determined to get what they deem to be top dollar for their prize asset.
“I am not surprised to see Celtic come in for a player of John’s quality,” continued Ambrose. “It’s been in the papers for a long time. The most important thing is he has done so well for this club and he has helped put us in the position that we are in today.
“It’s a big compliment to Hibs that Celtic are looking here for players. When you are doing well people look at you and this squad did well last season.”
It remains to be seen whether McGinn is part of the Hibs side that lines up against NSI Runavik of the Faroes Islands at Easter Road next Thursday as they embark on their Europa League campaign. A second qualifying round tie against Asteras Tripolis of Greece awaits the victor.
“Our goal is to try and get into the group stages,” said Ambrose. “We know the test that lies ahead of us and we will be prepared mentally and physically. I believe that we can do it.
“I played in that Celtic team that beat Barcelona and did very well in the Champions League. So anything is possible under this manager [Lennon]. The manager always says that, because he believes in his qualities and in what he has at this club.
“He is very experienced and he knows the European game.”
Ambrose laughed: “It is very different from Barcelona! But football is football and every journey must start somewhere. You have to treat every game with importance and respect. Every effort we put into last season was to reach this first step so we need to start on the front foot.”
Allied with their European adventures, Hibs are desperate to improve upon a fourth-place finish in their maiden campaign in the top-flight following promotion and, despite looming departures, Ambrose’s ambitions have not become more modest.
“The history behind the club is great, it’s just like Celtic,” he added. “That’s why I am here. I want to challenge for trophies and finish in the top four in the country. This is a place where I can improve and achieve and keep playing at the top level. That’s why I am here.”