By: Hibernian Media on 18 Apr, 2020 14:10
He may be back home in Belgium, but Stephane Omeonga’s thoughts are never far from Easter Road.
Lockdown life doesn’t suit the all-action midfielder, who has been making the most of his allocated exercise time with some punishing track sessions – as supporters who follow his Instagram account will have seen.
He’s counting the minutes until we get back to some sort of normality. Not least so he can thank one little Hibee in person.
Last month the 24-year-old celebrated his birthday and was inundated with well-wishes from Hibs supporters, including wee Orla Ferguson – whose video singsong stuck with him. The big-hearted Belgian’s response was to treat Orla to a season ticket for next season.
At a time when he wishes he was able to contribute on the pitch, Stephane’s more than happy to play his part off it.
He said: “I got a message from a little Hibs fan, Orla, that just melted my heart. It was so cute.
“The season ticket was for her to sing at Easter Road like she was singing for me, so she could keep enjoying being a Hibs fan.
“Things like that are just a small way to say thank you to all the fans that have made Hibs feel like home.”
Stephane means what he says about finding a home from home in Leith.
It’s why he was do desperate to come back in January and he’s missing his extended family.
Stephane added: “We have a ‘Friday social’ on Zoom with all the staff, to make sure everyone is happy and not having a tough time right now.
“Graeme Mathie and Jack Ross are always there in the Zoom meetings and Graeme is always texting me, asking me how I am and how my mother is.
“You might say ‘every club does this’ but I have spoken to some friends who play for different clubs and not every team is doing this.
“Hibs are special when it comes to looking after the human aspect of a player. It is a big family and, having played for other clubs now, I can guarantee you it is not the same everywhere else.”
While Stephane is a hero to thousands of young supporters, he needs no reminding about who the real heroes are in everyday life.
His mother, Edith, is a nurse in Liege – dealing with the impact of Covid-19 on the frontline.
He said: “My mother is a nurse, so this is a very difficult time for her. I have seen how stressed she is. She is working a lot more, doing all the hours she can, and it is hard to see the toll it takes on her. When she comes home after so many tough days, I would normally run up to her and give her a big hug, but she is scared for us to come too close.
“I have pictures of her at work with all the protective equipment on and it is scary. She looks like she is going to space. But that is what she needs to protect herself. I am so proud of her because she is doing something truly big and important for the people.
“You realise life is about a lot more than football. I’m holding on to the real things – family, loved ones and staying safe.”