Ever since his stand-out showing in a League Cup Final we’d rather forget, Jackson Irvine has been a name Hibernian supporters have been keen to see in the green and white.
The Australian international caught the eye at Hampden back in March 2016 as Ross County emerged 2-1 victors at Hampden.
Hibs, of course, went on to triumph in the Scottish Cup Final but Irvine and The Staggies left a mark and the feeling was clearly mutual.
The all-action midfielder got a glimpse of The Hibees’ potential that day and is keen for a closer look after penning a contract until the end of the season.
Jackson, this must have felt like a long time coming?
It’s not been easy. I’ve had to be patient and it’s been one of the most challenging periods in my career. I think it’s important to have a sense of perspective and I realise that there are a lot of people in the world who have suffered much greater hardships in the last few months. It’s just the longest I’ve gone without playing and I’m keen to make up for lost time and get back to doing what I love. That means being part of a successful team and enjoying my football again. I owe a massive ‘thank you’ to Harry Kewell, the staff and players at Oldham who let me train in there to top up my fitness levels. You can only do so much on your own and nothing compares to being in with the group. I think that’s what I’ve enjoyed the most from my first few hours at Hibs.
How did the move come about?
I had a great chat with the gaffer, about football and life in general. He spoke about the club’s ambitions, for this season and beyond, and how he saw me playing a role within that – technically and as part of the system he’d like to plan. We spoke about what I could hopefully do for Hibs and vice versa and it was really encouraging. I didn’t really need sold at all on Hibs as a club. I spent so long in Scotland with Celtic and Ross County that I know what I’m walking into – a big club that’s fortunate to have great facilities. The boys want to achieve something special and we’re still in two cup competitions, plus the hunt for a European place.
So, you didn’t need to pick up the phone to Martin Boyle for reassurance?
Believe it or not, I didn’t speak to him at all. I don’t think he even knew I was coming in. There’s always so much to get over the line with transfers now that I wanted to keep it to myself until everything was sorted. But he knows what I think of him. He’s a fantastic type. A brilliant personality in the dressing room and a fantastic player on top of that. I played in his debut for Australia and I’m looking forward to seeing him back in the international fold after he had a rough time of it with injury. He’ll be welcomed back into the camp.
Hibs fans will recall your performance in a day we’d like to wipe from our memories, but winning the League Cup with Ross County must go down as a career high for you?
It was an amazing day and it felt like a real achievement. Because I’ve tasted that it’s something I’m desperate to achieve again and there’s no reason we can’t, given the abundance of talent in this squad. Clearly the day was all about County but I do remember the Hibernian supporters packing out Hampden and that did leave an impression on me. In normal times, with supporters back in stadiums, it shows the potential of the club. Can I say that that result was the catalyst for Hibs going on to win the Scottish Cup? I might be pushing it a bit there, but Hibs have played a big part in some of the more memorable moments of my career. I made my Celtic debut against Hibs in a 2-2 draw and I’m looking forward to making some new memories now.
What do you think you’ll add to the squad?
I see myself as a high-energy, box-to-box midfielder. I like to get into the box and to offer a goal threat. I also think I’ve added experience and leadership qualities since I’ve been down in England, so I want to bring that character to the group here. There’s no shortage of ability here. I just want to do what I can to help push the group that bit further forward. Basically, I’m a player who likes to help bring the best out of my team-mates, whether it’s in games or training.
You’ll obviously need a bit of time to get up to speed but how did you feel after your first day of training?
I had a couple of in-house bounce games at Oldham and I’ve been in the game long enough to know my own body. I know I’ll need games, but I feel pretty good. I’m ready to crack on.