Hibs defender Paul McGinn on role childhood trampoline played in Scotland success
Paul McGinn grew up with a front-row seat as his wee brother John practiced his overhead kicks so when he converted one in the dying minutes of the World Cup qualifier against Austria, at Hampden, the Hibs defender’s only response was a one-word text.
“I texted my mates in the chatroom and said: ‘Boom!’ That was probably a lot less than the first time he scored!”
But such are the footballing achievements of the McGinn brothers, he concedes he is becoming blase about it all.
“I remember back to Stephen scoring against Celtic and almost being amazed that sort of thing happened. Maybe you just get used to it. But it’s always special for your country.
“If John can do it [at the Euros] this summer, he would be an absolute legend! That would definitely get more of a reaction! Hopefully he keeps playing well for Villa and keeps his place.”
Add in the two against the Faroes and the youngest McGinn sibling now has 10 goals in 31 caps, meaning only 14 players have scored more goals for the men’s national team. Not many have been as audacious as the 85th minute overhead finish to salvage a share of the points in Scotland’s World Cup 2022 opening qualifier.
“That’s his thing! He used to do it ten a penny, all the time, in the back garden. I didn’t even think he was as good at it as me, but there you go.
“We had a trampoline out there – maybe he was on that back in the day, so I can’t take credit for teaching him that!”
But the 30 year-old full-back can take his share of the credit for the Easter Road side’s impressive season. Gearing up to be one of the club’s best, with just five league games and a possible five Scottish Cup games remaining, he says the squad are fully apprised of the stakes.
“It’s been a long time since we finished third so that’s our target now. We have a big five games and first this Scottish Cup tie and we’re hoping to be right at it.
“We know it could go from a good season to an exceptional season. It would be a great way to end it. That’s what we’ll be trying to achieve.”
They know that progressing to the final and then lifting silverware would be the best way to quash the criticism they attracted in the wake of their two most recent semi final defeats.
“I suppose going back to Hampden and putting that to bed would be good, but look, it’s still two semi-finals.
“We’re not buying the ‘bottled it’ tag or anything, we’re still a good team. But we’d love to go back there and get past that stage given we’ve fallen there twice. Hopefully we get into a position to put it right.
For a start, that means safely negotiating tomorrow evening’s tie away to Queen of the South.
“The fans expect us to reach semi-finals as a minimum unless we got one of the Old Firm away early on – and even then they’d expect us to give them a good game at least.
“I love that mentality. Maybe not when getting abuse after being beaten. But we accept that it comes with the territory.”