Hibs coach reveals Jack Ross conversation that sparked management decision
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Darren McGregor has recalled a conversation with former Hibs manager Jack Ross that sparked his decision to go down the coaching route after hanging up his boots. The former Easter Road centre-back recently retired and will serve as head coach of the club’s under-18s, after working with the youngsters during the 2022/23 campaign.
The 37-year-old, who made more than 180 appearances for his boyhood club and helped them to an historic Scottish Cup win in 2016 and the Championship title the following season, didn’t make a first-team appearance under Lee Johnson although he was an unused substitute on several occasions in the early part of the campaign.
McGregor often featured as an overage player for the Hibs development team while helping coach the under-18s but with Steve Kean having left to manage Torpedo Kutaisi in Georgia, and Gareth Evans promoted to academy director, the Leither will take a more prominent role with the club’s CAS Elite Under-18 squad – having been encouraged by Ross during his time at Hibs to make a decision on whether to be a coach, or a manager.
“I think being an Academy Coach is a great grounding and it's a great, almost like an apprenticeship,” McGregor told HQ Magazine. “You have to understand the process. I guess it’s similar to getting a degree and having that four-year grounding to get really good at it, to develop my philosophy, to have my style of play. I think these things take a while and I don't think you want to rush that.”
McGregor paid tribute to Evans and Kean who have both played key roles in shaping his coaching profile. Describing his coaching journey as ‘not a one or two-year operation’, the former Rangers and St Mirren centre-back is keen to climb the ladder.
“I'm grateful of the position I’m in. Gareth's got 20 years of experience in academies and first teams, and Steve's managed in the English Premier League and in all different countries. I’m just cherry-picking bits of information and seeing how they act and conduct themselves and building my own picture. It’s definitely not a one or a two-year operation. It's, three, four or five years. I'm enjoying that. I've never, ever shied away from hard work, and I understand that I need to work hard. You need to put the hours in, and you need to make loads of mistakes. I'm on the first tier of that ladder and I understand that there's loads of steps that I need to climb up, but I think if you turn up and you work hard and that's half the battle.”
McGregor has already had plenty of experience with the under-18s including the UEFA Youth League.
“I’ve been to Molde, Nantes, helped prepare the young lads for Dortmund and to play top teams in the Algarve Cup,” he continued. “I've had so many experiences that have condensed five or six years of coaching into such a short period of time. Gareth and Steve gave themselves that opportunity after working so hard with a fabulous group of young individuals, who have bright futures – I was just very privileged to be a part of those experiences and exposed to European football just six months into the job.”