Big interview: Hibs’ Emerson Hyndman looks back on leaving America at 15

Emerson Hyndman
Emerson Hyndman
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Emerson Hyndman was so determined to make it as a football player in Europe that thought nothing of leaving his family in Texas behind to head for the bright lights of London aged just 15.

In fact, the on-loan Hibs midfielder was so young that, having joined Fulham, he spent his first year also having to finish off his schooling.

Hyndman

Hyndman

Now 22, Hyndman admits he might not have made such a rash decision if he’d given such a dramatic change in lifestyle a bit more thought, not that he regrets it in any way.

While his pals back in Dallas spent their time playing the vastly more popular American sports of basketball and baseball, Hyndman revealed: “I really only played them for fun, I was not particularly an athlete in terms of height or strength.

“My family was always football orientated, my grandfather was a coach, my father played until he had to quit because of injury. I grew up with them teaching me everything, so I was always football driven from an early age.”

Hyndman, twice capped by the States, played for local side FC Dallas and attracted the attention of Newcastle United before being convinced to join Fulham’s youth academy.

“At that age you don’t think it all the way through,” he admitted, “You just jump at it. Had I been a bit older I might have thought it through a bit more. But I’m really happy with the way things have turned out because I knew the best opportunities lay in Europe.

“It was always a goal of mine to make it to Europe, I watched games from over here on television all the time so it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”

Life, though, was tough initially, Hyndman confessing: “I’d had a couple of trials at Fulham so I knew some of the lads and the staff so I felt comfortable in that regard. But I had to go to school for a year, not knowing anyone bar my team-mates and other little things like living in digs which I hadn’t done before. It was all a little bit different.

“That was the most difficult year, but then I was full-time with Fulham and settled in quickly.”

Hyndman made his debut for Fulham as an 18-year-old in the Championship, but was sidelined in his first season with a broken collarbone and went on to make 25 first team appearances before switching to Bournemouth where he’s also found game time at the top level hard to find, a situation which saw him join Rangers on loan two seasons ago and now Hibs.

He said: “My spell at Rangers gave me that opportunity to play in front of big crowds with big expectations on the players, but having gone back to Bournemouth it was frustrating because of the lack of games, all my work being done behind the scenes.”

Given that scenario, Hyndman jumped at the chance to move to Hibs until January.

And there’s been no shortage of game time at Easter Road, Hyndman pitched straight in to make his debut in the Europa League in a 0-0 draw at home to Molde before going on to face the Norwegians in the second leg and, on the domestic front, St Johnstone and Ross County.

He said: “I’ve only been here a couple of weeks but we’ve had a lot of games in a short period of time. I knew it would be a test for me mentally and physically because of how quickly they were coming round. Having a full week between beating Ross County last week and Aberdeen at home tomorrow has been a chance to draw a breath and to get to know the lads a bit better after a long spell of games coming to quickly one after the other.

“I’ve got more comfortable by the day, getting to know the place, the ins and outs, while the boys have been very open, accepting of the new players that have arrived which is something you don’t always find. So they’ve made it easy, made me feel welcome and the more training we do together the more our game will come on.”

Hyndman admitted his previous spell in Scottish football had helped this time round but, he revealed, having watched the success Hibs enjoyed last season as they returned to the Premiership after a three-year hiatus had made the decision to return north of the border easy to make.

He said: “I enjoyed my time with Rangers and having been in this league before playing in front of big crowds and having lived here has made it easier to settle in this time.

“One of the things that attracted me to Hibs was the attacking mentality, the desire to be on the front foot in every game which makes it exciting to play in games where everyone wants to get forward.”

Hyndman has faced tomorrow’s opponents Aberdeen once before, enjoying a 3-0 win at Pittodrie and while he would obviously like to repeat that experience, he cautioned: “That was two years ago, things change – but at the same time we are looking forward to it.”