Stevie Mallan says new Hibs boss Paul Heckingbottom opened his eyes as to what was needed to succeed as a football player as he struggled to win a place in the then Barnsley manager’s team.
Heckingbottom took the midfielder south from St Mirren in 2017, only to quit the Tykes for Leeds United just as Mallan was beginning to make the breakthrough.
But, insisted the 22-year-old, he enjoyed every minute of working under Heckinbottom and is looking forward to doing so again at Easter Road.
Adamant he wasn’t at all worried when he heard his old gaffer would be Neil Lennon’s replacement despite the lack of opportunity he had in Yorkshire, Mallan, pictured at Barnsley, said: “Going from the bottom of the Scottish Championship to the English Championship was a massive jump and maybe at the time I was a bit naive thinking I could go in and play straight away.
“Obviously I felt like I wanted to play more but wanting to play more and being able to is two completely different things. Maybe I was a bit naive in that sense, but the only reason he started to play me was because he started to see that change in me. I’ve had that chat with him already that the way I started playing before he left for Leeds, it was a massive change in my game that he saw attacking and defending and he’s reiterated that to me, that he wants exactly that from me this season.”
Unsurprisingly, Mallan has found himself inundated with questions from his team-mates, but emphasised that it was Heckingbottom’s eye for detail which will impress.
He added: “It was such an eye-opener when I went to Barnsley. He goes into detail about how we want to play and going into a game you know exactly what he wants. He was a good man-to-man manager, the knowledge he’s got improved me.”