Stevie Mallan has admitted watching former St Mirren team-mate John McGinn blossom from a promising youngster into a Scotland regular played a huge part in his own move to Easter Road.
After an unhappy season down south after a move to Barnsley turned sour, Mallan has returned to Scotland to pen a four-year deal with the Edinburgh club and he is convinced he can follow in McGinn’s footsteps and realise his own dream of pulling on a dark-blue jersey.
Mallan revealed he’s kept in close contact with McGinn since Alan Stubbs persuaded him to turn his back on a switch to the United States and join a Hibs side which had just been relegated to the Championship.
And he’s kept just as close an eye on how McGinn’s career has flourished, to the point he’s being pursued by Celtic, who have just had a second bid for him rebuffed.
Mallan said: “He is a good guy, someone I looked up to at St Mirren when I was young because he was the young guy coming through before i came onto the stage. He’s been a very good player, a massive player and Hibs and hopefully I can emulate what he has done here.
“I spoke to him quite a lot to see how he has been getting on and vice versa, so when I knew the opportunity was there for me to come to Hibs I kept in contact to see how he enjoyed it and all he could do was speak highly of the club.
“He has done so well here and has kicked on massively and you can see how much the fans love him and how he has played against the bigger clubs. That probably enticed me even more because of how well he has done.
“Boys like John and Dylan McGeouch have shown their talents at Hibs and been called up for Scotland because of that. I want to get to that next stage of my career. I’m with 21s, but I want to push for that first team as well and hopefully it will be my performances for Hibs that will get me there.”
“I watched a lot of Hibs games of John and Dylan and how good they were. I hope I can come in and do the same, but bring my own style to the game. I don’t want to emulate what they did, but to bring my own style and hopefully if the manager gives me that opportunity I can do that.
Mallan admitted he felt he had “a wee point to prove” following his sojourn to England, where he had to wait until Boxing Day to make his debut for the Yorkshire club that was ultimately relegated to England League One.
“I never really got that much game time at Barnsley,” said Mallan. “I want to show I should have played. It’s not a massive point because it was a big jump going from Scottish to English Championship.
“I feel I deserved to play more at Barnsley because I trained well, trained hard, I’ve always worked hard with that drive. The first few months were hard because I didn’t get my debut until Christmas.
“You have to have that self-confidence as a player, that belief I should have played a lot more than I did. I cannot sit and grumble, it’s gone. It’s about what I do now. If I can come here and get a few good seasons under my belt, show what I can do as a player and do what I can for Hibs and hopefully get us playing well.”
Hibs fans caught a brief glimpse of Mallan in Sunday’s match against Blackburn Rovers, but he admitted he’s looking forward to making a competitive debut with a twist in tonight’s Europa League clash with NSi Runavik.
He said: “I’ve not played in Europe before, so I am looking forward to it and to be able to hopefully get on and do well. It’s a massive thing for me.”
In the long term, Mallan is hoping to bring his trademark deliveries and long-range strikes to fruition with Hibs, adding: “It’s something I’ve always worked on. My dad harped on at me from a young age to bring something different to my game and that’s something I enjoyed doing, probably because I didn’t enjoy running.”