Former Hibs goalkeeper Nick Colgan reckons Alan Stubbs got it spot-on in putting the experience of Conrad Logan ahead of the promise of Otso Virtanen with a place in the Scottish Cup final at stake.
Because Hibs No.1 Mark Oxley had been ruled out of the semi-final against Dundee United by suspension, Stubbs was forced to draft in Logan on an emergency deal despite the fact he hadn’t played for 16 months after rupturing his Achilles’ tendon.
And he opted to play the 29-year-old ahead of Virtanen even although the Finnish Under-21 stopper had been signed on a long-term deal.
The head coach’s decision was vindicated as the Irishman turned in a man-of-the-match performance, which culminated in him saving United’s first two attempts as the game went to a penalty shoot-out. Admitting Stubbs had been left with a tough choice, Colgan, now goalkeeping coach at Huddersfield Town, said today: “I’m sure Hibs will have seen something they like in the young lad and believe he will blossom in time, they don’t go handing out three-and-a-half year deals like confetti.
“But this was the semi-final of a national competition, the chance to go back to Hampden for a trophy Hibs haven’t won for, well we all know how long it’s been.
“There was the choice between a young inexperienced lad or someone who has 150 odd games under his belt down south who wouldn’t be fazed by the occasion.
“I think 99 out of 100 managers would have made the same choice.”
Logan arrived in Edinburgh as something of an unknown only to have become an instant hero among the Hibs support, but Colgan has been aware of him for a number of years, the keeper having been with Leicester City for 11 seasons although he spent most of his time on loan elsewhere.
Colgan, who played nearly 150 games for Hibs, said: “Conrad was very unlucky. He was down the pecking order at Leicester, behind Kasper Schmeichel and Ben Hamer while Mark Schwarzer was brought in last summer. He was out on loan at Rochdale last season when he snapped his Achilles’ tendon.
“He must have gone through a hell of a tough time not just physically but mentally, being out of contract with his career on the line.
“So when I saw he’d signed for Hibs I was absolutely delighted for him and to go into such a big game and perform as he did shows the calibre of the lad. He showed he’s not just a good goalkeeper but his mental strength.
“Being out for so long is difficult for any player but particularly a goalkeeper. It wouldn’t have been an easy decision but obviously the right one with the heroics he pulled off.”