David Gray dodging the limelight as Hibs legend prepares team for another tilt at cup glory
The 33-year-old has been thrust into the spotlight since Jack Ross was relieved of his duties last week, and has been leading the team through a period of uncertainty as the club seeks a new permanent manager.
Although Gray harbours hopes of carving out a coaching career himself this opportunity has come around too soon, with Shaun Maloney the preferred candidate and the former Easter Road skipper ruling himself out of contention.
He has been backing out of the limelight since taking interim charge of the team but is prepared to use his own experience to help the players.
“All I can do is pass on my knowledge and experience from when you're captaining the club and things like that,” he says.
“I’ve got a very experienced group of players in there, the likes of Paul Hanlon, Lewis Stevenson, and Darren McGregor; players that have been there and done it all before.
"As a group it’s important and you’ve seen the reaction we’ve had, it’s been fantastic and they’ve been great for us.”
To go from first-team coach to stand-in manager must have been a big change?
"It is certainly different. I’m not sleeping as much at the minute. When I was preparing for games as a player, I used to take myself away, or the missus would take the kids away and I would be able to get a bit of peace and quiet.
"Now I don't switch off at all. I’ve probably not been great to live with over the past few days but as much as it is a difficult situation, it is something that needs done and I have great support from Craig Samson and Eddie May as well.”
Gray has presided over a draw and a win – the latter Hibs’ first on league duty since late September – and is hopeful that fortunes are changing for Hibs, as he backed them to raise their game once again at the national stadium.
"Results haven’t been great but performances at times have not always got what we’ve deserved. The important thing on Tuesday was getting the three points, that was our focus, knowing then we can look forward to the cup final.
“Raising our game has always been the message, even through the tough period. If we perform to the levels we can do we can beat anybody. That was always the message during that poor run, we’ve got good players and they needed to back themselves and stick together.”
Gray has experience of lifting a trophy, but also being on the losing side – twice.
“I know how good it can be and I also know how much it can hurt if you don’t get the right result,” he adds.
“The majority of the players have been involved in cup finals so they know how that feels. The most important thing is they’re excited about it.
"We’ve shown this season that we’re more than a match for anybody and can beat anyone on our day. There are only two teams left in the cup so why can’t it be us?”