Danny Swanson today exposed the secrets behind his dream move to boyhood heroes Hibs. The St Johnstone midfielder admitted he tried to force a switch to both Hibs and Saints in 2015 rather than join Hearts.
He also stressed he has never supported the Tynecastle side and only claimed to be a fan to curry favour with their supporters when he signed.
Swanson explained that Hibs are the only club he would leave St Johnstone for – and that he was ready to sign a new contract at McDiarmid Park until the Easter Road club intervened.
The 30-year-old agreed a pre-contract with Hibs last month and will join them for pre-season training next month. Crossing the Edinburgh divide doesn’t faze him because he is realising a childhood ambition.
“I’m just getting this out there now. I remember doing an interview when I was at Hearts,” recalled Swanson. “I had to try and get them on my side so I’m giving it: ‘I’m a Hearts fan.’ Just to say, on the record, I’ve never been a Hearts fan. My granny and granda are but all this ‘my dad’s a Hearts fan,’ it’s not so much true.
“You try to get them on your side but it didn’t really help. I’m definitely not a Hearts fan. I still get people asking me if I’m a Hearts fan. No. No chance.
“Here’s something: I texted Alan Stubbs before I signed for Hearts. I phoned Tommy Wright before I signed for Hearts to try and get something sorted. Even though I was excited to sign for Hearts, I tried to get to Hibs. Alan Stubbs said: ‘Nope.’ So I ended up going to Hearts and played really well – not.”
St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright offered Swanson a mammoth contract hoping to persuade him to stay. He scored 15 goals in 38 appearances this season, but the pull of Hibs was too strong for the player. It is the second time he has left Perth after a productive spell there.
“Me and the gaffer have a great relationship but ever since I was a wee boy I always wanted to play for Hibs and that’s never changed,” said Swanson. “I’ve turned them down a couple of times to try and play at the highest level in England, but I always felt I was destined to end up there. Thankfully it’s happened.
“To be honest, I didn’t have the bottle to tell Tommy at first. We had a lot of chats about me staying here and St Johnstone offered me a really good deal. Money-wise, it was above and beyond what I expected.
“I think he did understand. He was a bit disappointed I didn’t sign here. I did tell him about other clubs interested. I told him who they were and that I’d turned them down to stay here. If it wasn’t Hibs, I’d still be here.
“From the day I signed for Hibs, he’s never changed. That’s something I really respect him for. A lot of people say he’s resurrected my career and I think he has. He’s just let me go and play and enjoy myself.
“He’s told me already he can’t save me again so I need this to work out. I’m looking forward to getting back after the summer and playing for Hibs.”
Swanson played his last game for St Johnstone on Wednesday night, teeing up the winning goal for Chris Kane in the 1-0 win against Hearts. He misses the last game of the season through suspension.
“I was a bit sad in the changing room with the boys but the fans were great with me considering I’d already signed for another team. They stuck by me and I’m glad I helped the club get into Europe,” he said.
“I left here before and went back to Coventry and I didn’t feel the same. I was always looking forward to going back there but it was different this time. I’ve played with the boys all season and it’s been a big decision for me. I’ve really enjoyed my football here but the pull was because it was Hibs.
“I can’t say anything negative about St Johnstone at all. I’ve loved it here and the gaffer, Callum [Davidson] and Eck [Alex Cleland] have all been excellent. The boys have been great as well. You won’t get a better bunch.”
Swanson is already eager to experience the Edinburgh derby as a Hibs player next season. He made the most of his assist against Hearts on Wednesday with a fist-pump at their travelling fans.
“You’ve got to. I’ve been slaughtered enough by them to be fair,” he said. “It’s all part of the game. You give it out and you have to take it. I can’t wait for the derbies next year. It will be nervous times but I’m looking forward to it.
“I’ve been to a lot of derby games and it hasn’t been great for Hibs over the years. Recently it has, but the ones I used to go to weren’t nice.”