John McGinn named Ladbrokes Championship Player of the Year
HIBERNIAN midfielder John McGinn has reiterated his commitment to the Easter Road side following the departure of head coach Alan Stubbs, the man he credits with taking his game to another level.
Less than a fortnight after he masterminded a Scottish Cup triumph after 114 years of Hibs agony in the competition, Stubbs was unveiled as the new manager of English Championship side Rotherham last Wednesday.
With a third successive year in the second tier in store for the Leith outfit, McGinn, himself, is likely to be the subject of much interest this summer having made a notable impression in his maiden season at Hibs, a highlight being a man of the match display on his Scotland debut in March’s win over Denmark.
The 21-year-old ex-St Mirren playmaker’s consistently high level of performance was recognised yesterday when Ladbrokes, the league sponsor, named McGinn their Championship player of the year just 12 hours after he was an unused substitute in Scotland’s 3-0 friendly defeat in France.
Despite writing himself into the club’s folklore with that historic cup victory, McGinn admits he still has targets to fulfil at Hibs, particularly in the league after their promotion bid was ended by Falkirk in the play-off semi-finals.
McGinn, who joined Hibs from St Mirren last summer, said: “It’s been unbelievable here. The club has transformed my career and taken it to another level.
“It was really disappointing that we didn’t get promoted, but it’s a happy club to be at.
“I’m very happy here. We’ve got a great squad. It’s disappointing that the manager’s left but that’s football. I’m sure I’ll have just as good a relationship with the new manager.
“I do feel like I’ve got unfinished business here. We had a squad that we all felt was capable of competing in the Premiership. That’s all well and good – but we didn’t do it. So we’ve got a determination to go and prove ourselves in the league, show that we’re a Premiership club. I would want to be part of that.
“Before the cup final, we were told that we’d always be remembered for winning that trophy – but we wouldn’t be remembered the same if we failed in the Championship next year. So I’m keen to enjoy more days like the cup parade. More success. That will come if we win the Championship.”
Reflecting on the impact Stubbs had last season, McGinn added: “It goes without saying that losing the gaffer is a set-back. The board were desperate to keep him.
“That’s because he transformed the club. I think it was on a massive downer when he arrived. It was disappointing to see the gaffer and John leave because they were amazing for me personally and for the team.
“I always look back to the first time I met him. It was me, my mum and my dad, and he said to me, ‘I guarantee I’ll make you a better player’ and I think he’s done that.
“John [Doolan] and Taff [Andy Holden] alongside him were a big help as well. They all worked well together. Hibs was a great place to be. It was really enjoyable. Every day I was coming in looking forward to training because we were always doing something different. It was refreshing.
“I wish them all the best at Rotherham. I text him to wish him all the best and thanked him for all he’s done for me and he replied along the same lines. Rotherham have got themselves a really good manager.”
Celtic fan McGinn admits he would welcome the appointment of Neil Lennon, pictured right, who has held talks with Hibs chief executive Leeann Dempster, if the former Parkhead manager is handed the reins. McGinn added: “It’ll be interesting to see what happens. It’s an exciting time for the club. We’re in Europe and we’re hoping to get promoted, so whoever comes in has got a good job on their hands with a talented squad.
“I’ve obviously seen his name linked with the job. And he’s a manager who has worked at the highest level. So if it was him, we’d all be looking forward to working with him.”
After returning from France in the early hours of Sunday morning, McGinn jetted off for a well-earned break yesterday afternoon following an exhausting campaign.
“It has been a marathon,” he admitted. “But it’s been good, a bit of everything, ups and downs. I was supposed to be getting an extra couple of days off because I’ve been away with Scotland.
“But that was the old gaffer. So I’ll see what the new gaffer says. The award I’ve received is recognition for myself, the coaches and the team.
“It shows that I’ve been improving. I’m looking to do that again next year.”
Strachan words came as a relief
Hibernian midfielder John McGinn admits hearing Scotland manager Gordon Strachan insist that continuing to play in the Championship will not hamper his international prospects is a relief.
Strachan has previously spoken of the benefits of having players at the highest level.
It was McGinn’s form in the Championship and domestic cup competitions that encouraged Strachan to include him in his squad for March’s friendly with Denmark.
The former Scotland Under-21 captain stepped up to the occasion by being named man of the match in the 1-0 victory at Hampden.
Strachan’s comments on McGinn came ahead of last Sunday’s friendly defeat by Italy.
McGinn, who was an unused substitute in Saturday’s 3-0 loss to France, said: “Gordon Strachan knows what I can do and it’s great that the past season hasn’t held me back.
“It gives me confidence that he’s said he’ll pick me even though I’ve been playing in the Championship. When I’m playing week in, week out at Hibs, that’s helping my development, and I’m sure that’s something the Scotland staff want to see.”