Toby Sibbick: 'I'd never play for Hibs - I know what Hearts means'

Four days before an Edinburgh derby, Toby Sibbick sits at Riccarton explaining why he rejected interest from Hibs to rejoin Hearts.

It is not lost on the giant Englishman that he will walk into something of a cauldron at Easter Road on Tuesday night. In fact, that’s partly why he is back in Scotland.

Sibbick feels two games on loan at Tynecastle Park from Barnsley in 2020 gave him a connection with Gorgie. When his agent proposed a move to Hibs, he refused and is now a permanent Hearts player on a three-and-a-half-year contract.

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“When my agent mentioned it to me, I just thought I couldn’t do that. It wouldn’t be fair on the fans, they’ve seen me here, they took to me so well,” says the 22-year-old. “I’d been linked with Hibs before but I said ‘no’ because that was just after I’d been with Hearts. To go there wouldn’t have been right on the club or the fans.

New Hearts signing Toby Sibbick is ready to face Motherwell.

“In the back of my mind, I always wanted to come back, and I think now is the perfect time to do that. The [Hearts] fans kept messaging me when I wasn’t playing at Barnsley. They kept looking out for me and telling me to come back and now obviously I’ve listened to some of them.

“I just don’t think it would’ve been right considering the history between the two clubs. The type of person I am, I couldn’t do that to a club like Hearts.

“I’ve played for a fan-owned club before, so I know what it means for the fans especially, they give the club everything. Us as players should give it back to them.”

Sibbick is open about the links with Hibs. “I think the two clubs were speaking about it,” he explains. “When my agent proposed it to me I said: 'No, I don't want to do it.'

“The talks between us and Hearts has always been there. There have been talks before but at the beginning of January the club first spoke with my agent and me to see if something could get done.

“It wasn’t until just before the Celtic game, that’s when everything was almost done. Then on Thursday I got the call to say I was coming back up here then I just couldn’t wait to get it done.”

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The prospect of facing Hibs fans on Tuesday doesn’t faze him. “I've seen my social media,” smiles Sibbick. “I'm getting tagged in things saying I could never go there. I think the two sets of fans are having a go at each other but it's part of football. I'm looking forward to it.

“I've played at some hostile places before. The fans bring everything to the game. Closed-door games isn't the same so having the fans back is good.”

First, Sibbick is preparing for his second Hearts debut against Motherwell. “I haven't played for almost three months but I feel fit and ready to go. It might take me one or two games to get back to full fitness,” he says.

Hearts were fighting relegation in 2020, now they are chasing European football. “When I walk in now I just see everyone happy and smiling. It's a really good atmosphere. Hearts should always be up there fighting for Europe.”

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