Mark Milligan 'disappointed' by Hibs exit but pleased to fulfil dream of playing in England

Mark Milligan has admitted he was disappointed to leave Hibs after one season, but is looking forward to finally fulfilling a long-held ambition to play in England.

Monday, 22nd July 2019, 9:18 am
Mark Milligan applauds the fans as he is substituted in his final appearance for Hibs
Mark Milligan applauds the fans as he is substituted in his final appearance for Hibs

The Australia captain played 31 times for the Capital club following his arrival from Saudi Arabian side Al-Ahli, but was released at the end of the 2018/19 season.

Speaking to FTBL in his homeland, the 33-year-old - who has signed on with Southend in England's League One - said the Easter Road side's decision to move the veteran midfielder on was tough to accept.

He said: "It was disappointing, but obviously with the new gaffer [Paul Heckingbottom] coming in, he had the chance to rebuild.

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Mark Milligan applauds the fans as he is substituted in his final appearance for Hibs

"While it was very difficult to accept, I did understand he had a longer-term plan and with my age and the salary I was taking up there, I offered him a chance to rebuild by leaving.

"So it was a little tough to take, but I can see where he’s coming from. I thoroughly enjoyed my time under Paul and at Hibs."

Milligan has always been keen to give the English game a shot, having spent the bulk of his career in Australia as well as enjoying stints in China, Japan and the Middle East. Hibs was his first taste of UK football at the third time of asking, the 79-times capped Socceroo linked with moves to Crystal Palace in 2013 and Bolton Wanderers in 2017.

The former Melbourne Victory man has signed a deal with the Shrimpers that will allow him to take up a coaching role once he retires from playing.

He added: "By taking this move, hopefully a little bit down the line the next door will open for me in the next phase of football [coaching].

"But first and foremost the discussions were about playing football. That’s what I’m still doing at the minute.

"There were a few things I was weighing up, but it was the lure of being able to play so many games and play under a manager like Kevin Bond who has been around for quite a while and has a great deal of experience that I think I can still learn from as footballer.

"I didn’t want to come to England get lost in the system in this late stage, but I do have one eye towards the future and this offered me the best of both worlds, which doesn’t often come about."