Chris Mueller outlines Hibs ambitions and explains owl photo as winger looks forward to Scottish football debut

He’s shared a dressing room with Nani, written a book, and had a chance encounter with an owl on the Royal Mile. But Chris Mueller just wants to get out on the pitch in a Hibs shirt.

By Patrick McPartlin
Monday, 17th January 2022, 6:00 am
Updated Monday, 17th January 2022, 11:35 am

The Chicago-born winger signed a pre-contract agreement last summer and was primed for a stunning debut against Hearts in the New Year Edinburgh derby until the winter break was brought forward, forcing him to wait a little longer to make his bow in Scottish football.

"It has been a long wait since I initially signed my pre-contract in July. It was frustrating, as you can imagine. I have been waiting a long time to get here and to play my first match but I waited six months leading up to that, so another two weeks was pretty much nothing – I have become an expert in patience and waiting,” the affable 25-year-old says ahead of Monday’s trip to Celtic.

He has already been introduced to the Hibs fans at Easter Road last month but how does he feel about the prospect of running out in front of 60,000 at Parkhead?

Sign up to our Hibs football newsletter

Mueller in action for Orlando City against Atlanta United

“It’s one of the places that you dream about playing when you think of Scottish football. I’m really looking forward to it. I played in front of big crowds as well in the States.

“There could be about 80,000 people at Orlando v Atlanta, but I don’t know if the hostility and environment necessarily matches Celtic Park.

“I’m really looking forward to it. I came across to play in games like this. I’m really thrilled and excited for the opportunity.”

Mueller spent three years at Orlando City before inking a deal with Hibs and thus succeeding in realising a boyhood dream. But it’s not just about trying his luck in the European game – the USA internationalist has immersed himself not only in the hustle and bustle of his new city but also in everything green and white.

Chris Mueller has had a long wait to make his Hibs bow

“My dream was always to play in Europe since I was a little kid.

“When you are coming from the States and have good seasons like a lot of the guys who move over do, you can obviously sign a new contract with a club in the States and make a lot more money and be content and comfortable with being there.

“But obviously the guys who have big dreams and want to challenge themselves, go to a new environment and get out of their comfort zones and see what thy can accomplish.

“Doing the move itself speaks more about the players than anything else.

Mueller takes part in training at HTC

"We’ve done pretty much all of the touristy things because I have to get them out of the way while I’m the newcomer. I have walked along Princes Street and George Street, Queen Street, gone up to the Castle and hiked up Calton Hill. My wife went up Arthur’s Seat but I couldn't make that trip after training, unfortunately, but we are really enjoying it.

"We have been waiting for this move for a long time so to come over here and just integrate ourselves as much as we can into the culture and really feel out the city and get to know it well. That is what we want to do.

"I have bumped into quite a few fans who never fail to remind me to score against Hearts. So, it has been great.”

Orlando’s first MLS game took place on March 8, 2015. For comparison, Hibs beat Berwick Rangers 4-0 in a Scottish Cup tie and Mueller is excited to represent a club with such a rich and varied heritage.

“It’s just the history and the culture of football that’s over here,” he explains.

“I was drafted to a team in the US that was founded in 2015, so it’s not like you have that rich history that runs back where you can walk through a stadium and just see all of the ages and generations of players who have built the foundations of the club as well as the fanbase.

“It runs deep with the supporters. People really care about it. That’s just the reality. It’s just different from the US mainly because of the history and that deep passion or the game.

“That’s exactly what I wanted to ingrain myself in.”

It’s early days for Mueller and he is still to kick his first competitive ball for the Easter Road side, but he aready has lofty ambitions with his new team.

"To win trophies, to come here and compete and to play in Europe.

‘That’s number one. To lift a trophy at Hampden would be a dream come true and to play in European competition is a goal that I think isn’t far out of the reach of the club.

“We certainly have the basis to do it. That’s definitely the number one ambition."

Mueller is well placed to comment on Hibs, having been an avid spectators of the team’s games since the summer.

“Even before I signed, when I was in talks, I started to watch as many matches as I could, whether they were pre-season games or cup games or whatever, I was fully invested,” he reveals.

“I have watched every single game since I signed so that has helped me see what the team is about and see some of the guys.

And the photo with the owl?

"I got a bit of stick from the guys, but the owl has a significant meaning to me throughout my life.

"The owl has been a universal sign for me, which I know sounds weird, but the fact that I saw a real owl for the first time in my life, on the Royal Mile, was not a coincidence, I can guarantee you that.”

Message from the editor

Thank you for reading this article. If you haven't already, please consider supporting our sports coverage with a digital sports subscription.