How Hibs offer Matt Macey more than Arsenal could as keeper warns Josh Doig over potential big move
Coming through the youth ranks at Bristol Rovers, Matt Macey could not ignore the overtures of Arsenal when the London club came calling eight years ago.
Looking back, although the Hibs keeper is not exactly dogged by regrets, things did not go to plan and his spell with the London side serves as a cautionary tale for in-demand team-mates like Josh Doig.
Just as Macey once did, the Hibs youngster has piqued the interest of several big-name clubs, offering the promise of a more prestigious stage, major prizes and pecuniary rewards. But, Macey has warned the Hibs starlet that there are different routes to the top and says that biding his time need not undermine those dreams.
Both players will run out at Hampden on Saturday, looking to share in a victorious Scottish Cup final experience and there are many at the club who will be hoping they can both play their part in building on that next term
But, while Macey is happy to stay where he is, thrilled to have signed a new deal that ties him to the Easter Road club for at least another two campaigns, the club and Doig may have some tough decisions to make.
The club would, undoubtedly, like the teenager, who has made a stunning impression in his debut season, picking up the football writers’ Young Player of the Year award and being shortlisted by his peers, to show some patience and continue his development at Hibs. That would offer him a greater guarantee of more top tier game experience but resisting all suitors will be tough, according to Macey, who understands the conundrums his team-mate will face, as he weighs up whether to stay or go.
“That is a question that will be running around his mind constantly I would imagine or it will do if the opportunity comes up for him to go to a massive club.
“It happens a lot with young players, it happened with me when I left Bristol Rovers to go to Arsenal. You have to make the decision to either stay where you are going to play or make the big move. There is no right or wrong answer. It works for some people, it doesn’t work for other people.
“He should listen to himself, listen to his family, and he will make the right decision. The best piece of advice I ever got was ‘whatever decision you decide to make, don’t worry about the one you didn’t make, just make your decision the right decision’.
“Either way, he is going to be a top player, whatever route he decides to take. I think both decisions would be fantastic for him.”
“Josh can go as far as he wants to,” added the 26 year-old, who has had to change path to get the first team football he wants but sees no reason why Doig would struggle to establish himself even at the very biggest clubs.
“He’s coming up to a big moment in his career. He has obviously had a lot of big moments already in terms of his age and making that breakthrough. But, the level of maturity and consistency you see in him, that’s what makes me think he won’t have a problem in terms of being distracted or sidetracked by interest from big clubs.
“He’s very level headed and he’ll take it in his stride. For me he can go right to the top, that’s my opinion. I have seen a lot of young players at Arsenal and he would be right up there, for sure.”
But, having made what he thought was his dream move back in 2013, Macey ended up desperate to earn a transfer out of the Emirates as he targeted a more active role in days like this weekend’s cup showcase.
Having arrived at Hibs in January, initially on a short-term deal, the Englishman was thrust straight into the side as cover for established number one Ofir Marciano, who was injured, and did enough to be installed as the first choice cup keeper, as manager Jack Ross showed faith in him. Now, less than a year after he watched on as the unused sub keeper as his Arsenal colleagues celebrated their FA Cup win, he has the opportunity to hoist some silverware of his own.
“I had made my mind up [to leave] before then. I knew I wasn’t going to wait around any longer. But being part of that cup win and not really feeling a part of it just confirmed everything to me.
“In the end it has worked out really well for me, and winning on Saturday would really tick that box, you look at it and think, wow, what a difference it is from a year ago.
“But no matter if we win or lose I know I made the right decision in taking that step to come here and I am more than happy with that.
“It’s tough. People would imagine being at a big club like Arsenal is great - and it is. But after a period of time, when you get a bit older and you have that taste of proper football, you know within yourself it is time to move on, and when you can’t get that move it’s incredibly frustrating.
“I had to grind away day after day, just in the hope that a move would come up, and luckily it did in January.”
And, the timing has been special, with Macey stepping in for the Aberdeen match that clinched third place and enjoying the prospect of adding cup glory to a heady half-season mix.
“Since I have been here my opinion of the club has gone above and beyond what I could have expected.
“I have been pretty lucky but I feel I have worked tirelessly for a long, long time to have that bit of luck. That’s the way football goes, I think.”