'It started off as a joke...' - Hibs winger Martin Boyle speaks on Australia international career

Martin Boyle in action for Australia against JordanMartin Boyle in action for Australia against Jordan
Martin Boyle in action for Australia against Jordan | Getty
In-form winger speaks on turning out for Socceroos

Hibs winger Martin Boyle has spoken about his rise to international stardom with Australia, describing it as a "joke that kind of escalated".

His tongue may have been firmly lodged in his cheek when he made the joke but there is a deeper meaning to his remarks.

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Speaking to Optus Sport, the 26-year-old - who has twice fought back from serious injury to be a key player for the Easter Road side under Jack Ross - said: "When I was 16, 17, I left school and was playing boys' club. I didn't have the professional environment or full-time football.

"I had a job - I was working with my mum delivering parcels out of a van. I signed for Montrose and I still had the job and I was going to training at night after working.

"I moved to Dundee when they were in the Premiership so it was quite a big jump, and when the new manager came in he asked me if I wanted to go on loan to Hibs.

"They were in the Championship - it was a step down - but I've been here ever since, for five years now."

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Boyle initially arrived on a temporary basis in the Capital, with Alex Harris heading to Dens Park as part of a swap deal. The ebullient speedster made the move permanent under Alan Stubbs, gradually improving from a fairly raw winger to a key player under Neil Lennon.

Arnold's visit

His stock continued to rise and it was the arrival of veteran Australia cap Mark Milligan, and striker Jamie Maclaren, that propelled Boyle into the international limelight.

Recalling how Socceroos national team boss Graham Arnold came to see the pair training at Hibs' East Mains complex, Boyle added: "Arnie came in one day to training to watch the lads and pulled me aside and asked if I wanted to come to a camp and see how things went.

"The camp was in Dubai, and all the boys were acclimatised while I was running about thinking, 'Oh my God, this is hot.'

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"And they were like, 'you have no idea.' They were brilliant with me - there were massive names in there like [Brighton duo] Aaron Mooy and Maty Ryan - and I was a bit nervous meeting the big guns.

"But they were brilliant - I had to slow down my words and stuff like that and crack a few jokes but I was probably the brunt of most of them."

'I'm proud'

Speaking as an adopted Socceroo, Boyle said he understands why some people find it strange. He continued: "Being born [in Scotland], and having never been to Australia... I can see why some people think it's a bit funny.

"But I'm very proud to wear the jersey. My dad's proud, my family's proud.

"To come from where I did to where I am now, it's just hard work and I'll continue to do so and hopefully I can cotnuinue my hard work on the ptich.