Hibs striker Kevin Nisbet opens up on dad's death just days before Hearts tie and says he fulfilled father's wish by playing
Hibs striker Kevin Nisbet has revealed that his father passed away in the days leading up to Saturday’s Scottish Cup semi-final defeat by Hearts and that he honoured his dad’s wish for him to play in the match despite his death.
Thomas Nisbet was battling liver cancer after being diagnosed with it earlier in the year and he died on Wednesday, just three days before the Edinburgh derby against Hearts at Hampden, which Hibs lost 2-1.
Nisbet, who has scored eight goals in 14 appearances since joining Hibs from Dunfermline in July, decided to play in the match despite the pain he and his family were going through and was unfortunate to miss a penalty in the match.
‘Dad has been the driving force’
Bravely speaking to the official Hibs website, Nisbet said: “We’d known about Dad’s condition for, maybe, the last three months, before I signed for Hibs.
“Terminal liver cancer. The words hit you. Unfortunately, his health deteriorated in the last week. It all happened very quickly. We hoped we’d have had another couple of weeks with him, but it wasn’t to be.
“I had to leave training quickly on Tuesday to be at his side. There are all the obvious precautions for everyone just now and, like a lot people, I’ve had to say goodbye to a loved one in difficult circumstances. It’s been a tough time for so many people.
“I’d been visiting him in the garden for the last wee while, at his insistence. More than anyone he was making sure I was following all the proper protocols.
“I’m grateful for that time we had but it has been hard.
“Dad’s been the driving force behind how I’ve been playing in the last few months. Not just because he’s my hero and I wanted to do it for him, but because he’s always believed in me. Ever since I first kicked a ball.
“Dad was one of those ‘football Dads’, in terms of giving up his time to drive me about from an early age.
“When I had a couple of setbacks earlier in my career and things weren’t going to plan, he never lost faith in me. He never stopped encouraging me.
“He wasn’t one of those pushy types trying to live their dreams through their kid. He just wanted me to be happy and make the most of myself.
“In the last few months it hasn’t been easy in terms of worrying about him and juggling that with football, but he was adamant that I – as best as I could – stayed single-minded when I was at training and playing games.
“Anything I do now will be for him.”
Making him proud
Nisbet revealed that his father was one of the main reasons for the move to Hibs, convincing him to move to Easter Road rather than down south.
The 23-year-old continued: “Dad was adamant that I should come here. It was in my head to do the same, but he really was set on it. He was convinced this was the best place for me to come at this point in my career.
“It’s worked out that way and I like to think I made him proud.
“With the way I’ve started the season, and the way the team has been playing, I think it’s helped keep him going and been a welcome distraction. Every week he’s looked forward to the games and watching me play. He loved to see me score.”
Darren McGregor help
Nisbet has also had the support of his team-mates and coaches at Easter Road. He explained that manager Jack Ross, assistant coach John Potter and central defender Darren McGregor had been constantly there for him during the most difficult of times.
“At the start, I didn’t tell anyone. I wanted to come to Hibs and be myself, at least initially.
“I let the gaffer and Potts know. They’ve been so good with me. Beyond that, with so few people knowing, I had the breathing space to come in, work hard and escape from all of it for a few hours every day.
“The gaffer and Potts were always saying that I could take time off, but I’ve not missed a session or a game. This was somewhere I could come in and feel comfortable.
“Darren McGregor has been there for me. He lost his own Dad at a young age and knows exactly how I feel and how to juggle that with football. I have to thank Darren and the rest of the lads because they’ve all been great with me. The same for the gaffer and Potts."
The penalty miss
Opening up about his penalty miss, with his strike hitting the crossbar in extra time, Nisbet reflected: “Again, the gaffer said I didn’t have to play on Saturday, but it was something I’d actually discussed with Dad before he passed away.
“He told me that he wanted me to play and that he thought I should play, whatever happened. I would probably have done the same, but it made it a lot easier hearing him say that.
“I like to think I played my normal game. The penalty miss was a real disappointment, but my own situation had no bearing on that.
“Better players than me have missed penalties in the biggest games, and I could just as easily have hit the bar if I was playing without a care in the world. I wouldn’t stand for anyone trying to make any excuses for me.
“My reason for speaking out was to thank people who have offered their support, to me and my family in the last week.”