'I was really not happy at how I got treated' - Hibs' Florian Kamberi opens up on relationship with Paul Heckingbottom

Forward reveals former coach didn't appear to trust him at Easter Road

Monday, 11th November 2019, 4:40 pm
Florian Kamberi found starts limited under previous manager Paul Heckingbottom. Pic: SNS
Florian Kamberi found starts limited under previous manager Paul Heckingbottom. Pic: SNS

Florian Kamberi is relishing a fresh start under a new Hibs manager after revealing that he didn’t feel Paul Heckingbottom trusted him.

The striker - who is currently on international duty with Albania - started only one of the Yorkshireman’s last seven games in charge before he was sacked last Monday.

Kamberi had made it clear previously that he wasn’t happy with this situation, and after making a significant impact upon being restored to the starting lineup by interim manager Eddie May for Saturday’s 4-1 win away to St Johnstone, Kamberi expanded on his gripes about Heckingbottom.

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Asked by the Evening News how he felt about the departure of the manager, the 24-year-old said bluntly: “This business is about winning games and if you don’t win games, there are consequences. I was really not happy at how I got treated under Paul Heckingbottom. I was still the same player when he was in charge that I was on Saturday but he didn’t trust me. If he drops me all the time, that shows he doesn’t have trust in me. If the manager doesn’t trust me, then it is difficult.”

Kamberi explained that the lack of communication from Heckingbottom exacerbated his frustrations at being dropped from the starting lineup.

“I was never given a reason about why I was on the bench,” he said. “I was always training very well. I am a very hard worker on the pitch and in training. If you drop me, just tell me an honest reason why and then I’ll accept it. But if you don’t come and tell me a real reason and then every time I come on and make a difference and show that I should be in the starting XI, then that shows the manager doesn’t have trust in me. If you have a reason not to put me in the team, come and speak to me and I’ll accept it. But if you don’t speak to me about it, then it seems like you don’t care.

“Even though he didn’t come to speak to me about it, I kept working hard because I knew my chance would come eventually. I stayed patient and I respected his decision because he was the manager but I always knew what skills I had and what I could bring to the team. I got my chance on Saturday and I think I did very well.”

Hibs are a week into their search for a new manager, with chief executive Leeann Dempster hoping to make an appointment by the end of this month. Jack Ross remains the hot favourite for the job, and Kamberi is looking forward to the prospect of re-establishing himself in the starting lineup under whoever gets the nod to succeed Heckingbottom.

“I’m looking forward to the future now,” said Kamberi. “The past is gone. I don’t care what has happened. It’s always important what is happening now and the next day. You shouldn’t look too much into the future though. It should always be step by step. I know exactly what I can do but the circumstances have to be right. If the circumstances aren’t right, then it’s always difficult for a player. The circumstances are very good at the moment. Eddie trusts me, my team-mates trust me and we are playing with two up front.”

Kamberi excelled alongside hat-trick hero Christian Doidge in a two-man attack. The switch of formation to 4-4-2 came as a relief to the former Grasshopper Zurich hitman after Heckingbottom had used both Kamberi and Doidge predominantly in a lone-striker role in the early months of this season.

Asked if the switch to two up front had helped him, Kamberi said: “Absolutely. Two up front is the way forward. Everybody asks me what I prefer and of course it’s two up front. Hibs should be an attacking team. We don’t want to defend, we want to attack all the time, and I think Saturday showed that two up front is a very good solution for the team. Even if I play alone up front, I will always try my best, but if I can have somebody beside me to support me, it’s even better. I think I showed on Saturday that if I have a partner like Doidgey next to me, I can make a difference.”