Kevin Nisbet reveals Covid-19 fears over Hibs move, football wake-up call, and why he doesn't set personal targets
Waiting the best part of six months for a dream career move might seem hard enough, but Hibs' new striker Kevin Nisbet has admitted the coronavirus pandemic left him fearing he might never seal a return to Easter Road.
The 23-year-old, who featured for the Hibees at under-15 level before joining Partick Thistle's academy, revealed that regardless of the global uncertainty, he was just happy to get the deal over the line, having come close to swapping Dunfermline for Edinburgh in January.
"When you see people losing their jobs in football, it does start to worry you, you're wondering if it’s ever going to happen," he said in a Zoom press conference yesterday.
"I'm grateful, and humbled, to be here. I’m just delighted to get a long-term deal."
One side-effect of the financial constraints faced by Hibs and other clubs was a smaller salary than the package on offer during the winter transfer window, but Nisbet insists taking a more modest pay-packet was the right thing to do.
"I took a lower wage than I would've got in January. All the other boys are on deferred wages and it wouldn't be right for me to come in and be on bigger wages."
There were plenty of suitors including options in England but Nisbet insists money wasn't at the forefront of his decision-making this summer.
"Hibs is a massive club and ever since they were interested it was just tunnel vision. With the other offers, I wasn't really keen on going.
"Back in January, as soon as I heard Hibs were interested, I wanted to go.
"But I had to put it to the side. I was a Dunfermline player, I was under contract, and I still had to perform, albeit I did pick up an injury at the end of February which stalled my season before lockdown did.
"It was disappointing but I’m just delighted the move has happened now."
Partick wake-up call
Nisbet's arrival at Hibs marks the latest staging post in a career that came dangerously close to fizzling out. After 26 goalless senior appearances for Partick Thistle and three loan spells that yielded just eight combined goals, he was released by the Jags.
The player doesn't mince his words when talking about his four-year spell at Firhill.
"My attitude wasn't right on or off the park," he states.
"I wasn't great with the way I conducted myself - it wasn't the way a professional footballer conducts themself.
"I was going out too much, I had a bad diet, I got loaned out and had a hard time. I was at an age when I didn't want to listen - I was immature, I was a young kid.
"I ended up getting released and that's when the penny dropped. The week after, when I didn't have a lot of offers coming in, I started getting worried. I had a few part-time offers but I still had a lot of confidence in myself and my ability. I felt if I went part-time I'd just drift out the game.
"I went to Raith on pennies basically, just to kick on and it's the best decision I ever made."
John McGlynn, Nisbet's manager at Stark's Park, has spoken highly of the player's attitude and ability and suggested that if he continues on his career trajectory, he could be destined for much bigger things further down the line.
Speaking of which, there's a neat parallel with fellow striker Lawrence Shankland.
The pair could line up against each other in the third game of the new campaign when Hibs travel to Tannadice but while the Dundee United man has already had a taste of international football, Nisbet isn't looking that far ahead just yet.
"Both of us have gone down similar paths - he was at Aberdeen, I was at Partick. We both had to take a few steps down to kick start our careers.
"It’s worked out great for both of us – and I think he’ll do well this season. He’s a great striker and I wish him all the best.
"[His Scotland caps] show what is possible, although for me the focus is now fully on scoring goals and playing well for Hibs.
"If a call-up comes, great. If it doesn’t, then I’m sure at some point in the future it might."
Getting the first goal
Despite 35 goals in one season for Raith Rovers followed by 23 for Dunfermline, Nisbet isn't setting himself similar targets in green and white.
"What I’ve been doing every season is just trying to score as early as possible. Then, I start setting personal targets.
"For me, it’s just about getting that first goal, and getting off the mark. I did my first day of full training yesterday, and I was doing an extra few days of fitness work.
"I need to get a good pre-season behind me, but I can't wait to get started."