'Hibs is like a family' - Marijan Čabraja opens up on father's death and support from Easter Road team-mates

Marijan Čabraja sent a text message on the morning of Friday August 19, to Hibs manager Lee Johnson.

The left-back was at home in Croatia, having attended his father’s funeral the day before. Frano had died suddenly earlier that week, bringing Čabraja back to his homeland sooner than he might have expected after signing for Hibs from Dinamo Zagreb.

But there was never any doubt in his mind that he would be available to face Rangers.

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“On Thursday I spoke to my brother Anto and he told me our father would want me to play,” Čabraja said ahead of Hibs’ home game against Kilmarnock.

"So I texted the gaffer to say I was flying back to Edinburgh and I was ready if he needed me.”

Pictures of the 25-year-old in tears at the final whistle being comforted by team-mates and backroom staff captured the hearts of Hibs supporters and fans of other clubs alike, with Čabraja delivering an emotional speech in the dressing room afterwards.

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"The tears came and went a few times [during the game],” he revealed. "At the end of the game, that was my release.”

The full-back revealed the speech came about after his family encouraged him to thank his team-mates for their support.

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Marijan Čabraja spoke to the media ahead of Hibs' home game against Kilmarnock

"My mother Kača told me I needed to say thank you to the players because she saw all the messages and also it helped her, so I felt I had to do it,” he smiled.

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"I felt like my team-mates were crying with me but everything they did for me, all the messages and their support; I can't thank them enough."

Čabraja believes the closeness of the Hibs dressing room can help the side make more of an impression on the Scottish Premiership after a mixed start to the season.

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“When I came here I told my friends that this is probably the nicest dressing room I've ever been in,” he added.

"This club is like family, the dressing room is really close and that will help us through the season to get better results.

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"I think we have much more quality than the points on the table suggest.

"The league campaign is a marathon, not a sprint. We've only played five games. We have a lot more to prove, and I think we will."