Lewis Stevenson admitted he was a bag of nerves before his testimonial match and that he was blown away by the occasion as his 12 years as a Hibs first-team player was recognised
A crowd of more than 9000 turned up at Easter Road to watch Stevenson and his team-mates fight back from two goals down to force a 2-2 draw with Sunderland, with the real winners being charity.
Stevenson had already decreed that half of the proceeds from the game would go to local causes, but then insisted a further sum be donated to the Bradley Lowery Fund in tribute to the six-year-old Black Cats fan who lost his brave fight with cancer on Friday.
He said: “They are three charities that are really important to a lot of people. With the tragic death of Brad it was right to donate some money, especially with Sunderland fans coming up in good numbers.
“It was hard to celebrate a day like today when there is a lot of stuff going on in the world.”
Stevenson enjoyed a lap of honour having been replaced six minutes from time, walking round the Easter Road pitch to salute the fans to the strains of Sunshine on Leith.
And, he revealed, he was just glad it was all over. He said: “I was really nervous last night but I don’t know why. I was up thinking about it, it was just stupid things really but I’m glad everything went smoothly and it was an amazing turn out, more than anyone could have imagined, especially if someone told me after we got relegated three years ago that I would have a testimonial and there would be more than 9000 people there. It was unbelievable, and thanks to the Hibs fans who came, it really made my day.
“I’m an awkward guy at the best of times but when you’ve got 9000 people just focusing on you it is a bit strange. It is something I’ll hold deep in my memories for the rest of my life. There are not many people who get a testimonial and I’ll definitely remember it.
“It was an emotional day and day I’ll never forget. On the football side, I thought we did well and competed well against a good Sunderland team.
“I wanted it to be a normal game, not a typical testimonial with no pace. We both treated it like a normal game and I’m sure the gaffer wanted that. He likes testing himself against the best and so do we. He’s been great. I’m glad he let me start and be captain so it was fantastic from him.
“I couldn’t really read the programme because there were so many nice things said which is strange to read. But I’m sure when I get home tonight I’ll sit down and read them with a tear in my eye.
“There was no speech afterwards, I was on the physio’s bed icing my hip. I will thank them in some way. The boys have been great through this. We’ve got a great team spirit and it’s a great squad to be a part of.”