'I'm a perfectionist' - new Hibs midfielder on self-imposed demands
Football isn’t a game of perfect. But try telling that to Nathan Moriah-Welsh. At some point, he believes, he’ll turn in a performance to satisfy his most demanding critic. Himself.
"Every week I want 100 per cent pass completion, goals, assists, just to be the best person I can be every day, every game,” said the new addition to the Hibs midfield, the former Bournemouth player adding: “I think I gave the ball away about three or four times against Celtic - and I was fuming. If I can be 100 per cent every game, then it gives the team an extra bit every week.
“I expect great things from myself. And I expect the club and the lads can do great things. Of course, that puts pressure on me. But I've done that for years now. I've worked on it for years. I'm still only 21 but in five years’ time, if I can still be that perfectionist I am, I could be anywhere."
Not that Moriah-Welsh is in a rush to be moving on, of course. He signed a two-and-a-half-year deal in January, a rarity in a raft of loan signings during the mid-season window. Hibs boss Nick Montgomery clearly sees him as a player who can make a lasting impact at Easter Road. He certainly arrived with a good pedigree, having worked under the guidance of a midfielder who – despite winning 18 England caps – was almost criminally under-rated in his career.
Asked to name the biggest influence on his career, Moriah-Welsh didn’t miss a beat before declaring: "Scott Parker when I was at Bournemouth. Obviously, he was a midfielder as well.
“His desire to be a perfectionist and the detail that he and his coaching staff went into rubbed off on me a lot. It just showed what is needed to be a top, top player like he was.
"In training with him, he would sometimes join in and to be fair, he nutmegged me a couple of times. Some managers might not get involved but he played like he wanted our players to play. He was probably the most influential.
“Yeah, he was fiery. I think I got on the wrong side of him once. I wasn’t on his bad side too many times. But one time – and I’m not going to go into that! I can’t tell you …”
Moriah-Welsh, who spent last season on loan at Newport County, revealed that he had other options – north AND south of the Border – when Hibs came in for him during the transfer window. He also admits that he didn’t do huge amounts of homework before making the giant leap from England’s south coast to Scotland’s capital.
“I was kind of oblivious coming into it,” he said. “Which is what I like. I don’t like to have a lot of expectations. I need to see it for my own eyes.
“Coming up here, there weren’t any doubts at all. I just wanted to play. If I can get as many games in as possible, I’m doing myself the world of good.
“I think those are probably the best decisions for me. Having to see every week what it’s like, it’s about growing as a person as much as a footballer, becoming a man. I spoke to the gaffer and his aspirations aligned with mine.
"You can see it for yourself, Easter Road is a top, top stadium. Edinburgh … I couldn’t say no to it, personally. It was the No. 1 option on my list when a list of clubs came out from my people. It was an opportunity not to be turned down.
“I can’t tell you what the other options were. A couple of clubs up here, a couple of clubs in England were sniffing. But out of all of them, this was the one that just shone for me with a massive light.”
A first start in the midweek loss to Celtic, playing as part of a new-look five-man midfield, saw Moriah-Welsh earn better than pass marks from most. He doesn’t seem to be overawed by much about Scottish football. Although that may change at Inverness this afternoon.
The one thing that has surprised him, he says, is the support, the 21-year-old pointing out: “Being at Newport last year, I didn't have as many fans as Hibs do. That's probably the biggest shock - but against Celtic they backed us 100 per cent. That was a big positive.
"Celtic, Rangers - all those teams are top, top teams. Those are the games you want to be involved in, against top teams. That's where you want to be in five-to-ten years’ time. Playing against teams that have been in the Champions League and Europa League, that's where you want to be.
"I think the main factor in coming was probably the club size more than anything. The chance to play against team like this (the Old Firm) as well, but also to come to city like this, and in front of those fans, was a no-brainer.”
Asked if he had been taken aback by the expectations at Hibs, Moriah-Welsh insisted: "Not really. I'm a perfectionist so there's always expectation on my shoulders. The fans expect what they expect - and we 100 per cent have to give it to them every week.”