Hibs’ Gael Bigirimana: Trip to shop to buy milk as a kid gave me chance in football

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Hibs midfielder Gael Bigirimana has revealed how a trip to the shops to buy milk kickstarted his football career.

Bigirimana, who joined the Easter Road side from Motherwell during the January transfer window, is currently on international duty with Burundi but in a video interview with the BBC he explained how the shopping trip indirectly led to him signing for Coventry City.

Milking it: Gael Bigirimana has revealed how a shopping trip gave him a chance in UK football. Picture: SNS Group

Milking it: Gael Bigirimana has revealed how a shopping trip gave him a chance in UK football. Picture: SNS Group

The former Newcastle United man said: “We moved to England in 2004, and my mum lived in Coventry. A few yards over the road [from the flat] was where the Coventry Academy trained.

“One day, my mum sent me and my older brother to go and buy milk, and that night the Academy [players] were training, and I think it was my age group - about 11.”

The 25-year-old explained that he heard an inner voice telling him to go and ask to play.

He continued: “To register yourself you had to pay £2 or something like that so you could get a trial, but my mum said, ‘No, I don’t have the money’.

“She thought I was going to just waste it on junk food. But I said ‘it’s okay, I’m going to go there and ask myself’.”

The midfielder went up to one of the coaches and asked for a trial.

“They said, ‘it doesn’t happen like that’,” Bigirimana recalled. “I gave them my school name and they said, ‘Next time you’ve got a school match, send us a letter and we’ll come and watch you’.

“As I was about to cross the road they called me back and asked, ‘are you better than the guys we’ve got here’?

“I said, ‘you’re going to have to wait and see’ and then they said ‘come tomorrow’. And a few months after that, they signed me.”

The five-times capped international, who had spent time living in Uganda before moving to the UK, agreed terms with the Sky Blues in 2005, graduating from the Coventry Academy in the summer of 2011.

He featured 28 times for Coventry before joining Newcastle, where he spent four years.

Bigirimana joined Rangers on loan as part of the “Newcastle Five” in the latter half of the 2014/15 season but didn’t play for the Ibrox side. He returned to Coventry on loan, then permanently, playing a further 52 times.

Motherwell snapped him up in the summer of 2017 and he played 57 times for the Steelmen before his surprise move to the Capital in the closing stages of the January transfer window.

He has featured once, as a substitute against Aberdeen in a 2-1 defeat.