Lid lifted on 'honest' Hibs talks with Hanlon and Stevenson as departing legends earn the ultimate tribute

Grateful Nick Montgomery says he has nothing but respect for two 'unbelievable servants' in Paul Hanlon and Lewis Stevenson – and opened up on the honest talks behind their summer departures.

Hanlon and Stevenson will both leave Hibs at the end of the season after more than 30 years’ combined service and north of 1,100 appearances between them. They will get the ultimate farewell with a special presentation after the final home Premiership game against Motherwell on Wednesday, May 15. Stevenson, 36, and Hanlon, 34, are modern day Hibs legends but boss Montgomery says honesty about their situations was the only thing for it as he builds for the future.

He told the Edinburgh Evening News: “I think you handle it with honesty. It helps that you’re talking about two really honest players, as well. But you handle the situation. It’s gradually been going on since the start of the season. I hope we’ve treated them with respect and, in a decision reached between the club and the players, it’s really been nothing but amicable. As a human being, I wish them well moving forward. As a club, you’ve seen the outpouring of affection and appreciation for what they’ve done, the sacrifices they’ve made for this club.

“When you inherit squad, you find players in all sorts of different situations. That happened when I arrived. I had to think about what the future would look like. Every club goes through these transitions. Some clubs just have more of a transition than others.”

He went on: “They’ve just been two unbelievable servants to the club for a long time. We’ve had discussions throughout the season, and it was a joint decision, between the players and the club. They know, and the club know, that it’s time for them to move on to the next chapter, whatever that may be."

-Credit:SNS Group
-Credit:SNS Group

So what will be next for the veteran pair? “They can both carry on playing, down the line they might see coaching as a way forward," Montgomery said. "Whatever they do, they’ll bring quality to the job. I’ve got nothing but respect for them as ultimate professionals, certainly in my time at the club.

“It’s been a special journey for both of them, with ups and downs. But that’s football. They look after themselves, they’re great examples to anybody on the benefits of working hard and sustaining a long career. Anyone who has a long career will tell you that it’s all the small things – not just training hard but eating properly and sleeping well – that can make the difference.

“That’s what make these guys top pros. They’ve looked after themselves to play as long as possible. There is no doubt that they can carry on playing if that’s what they decide.”