Paul Hanlon sees no Hibs change of heart incoming as he reveals transfer offers and interest

Paul Hanlon has lived the boyhood dream at Hibs for 16 years.

But it hurts the departing Easter Road stalwart that it’s ending this way. And he doesn’t envisage a route back. Even after boss Nick Montgomery was axed. After more than a decade-and-a-half as a top-team player for Hibs, Hanlon will play his final game on home soil tonight. Emotions will be mixed. Deep pride at the service he’s given and pure pain at how it’s concluding.

Hanlon will savour the special feeling in Leith for one last time having ticked every box and explained: “As a 14-year-old, or even younger, I dreamt about playing for Hibs, winning the Scottish Cup, scoring against Hearts. That was me as a wee Hibs fan. I’ve managed to do all that and more, racking up the appearances that I have done. There’s disappointment that I’m leaving, that it’s coming to an end because I feel I have a bit to offer. It’ll be emotional leaving, the last game will be difficult. But, at the end of the day, I’ve done my family proud in terms of being Hibs fans.”

Of course, Hanlon would have preferred the scenario to be better. A bottom-six encounter in a disappointing season which has seen another manager fired isn’t the fairytale finale.

It’s a source of anguish as he said: “Listen, you want to be successful at any time, regardless of whether you are staying or moving on. This season we haven’t been, there’s no getting away from that. That hurts a lot as a player who supports Hibs.

“You want to be part of a successful Hibs team. I think we have got the quality to have a better season. That aspect of it definitely hurts. We just look at it as a squad. We could and should have done more. It’s easy to say ‘togetherness’ and’ character’ and all these buzzwords people throw about but implementing it day-to-day is difficult. We just need to get to a stage where everyone in the building is pulling in the same direction and making sure this club, most importantly, is successful because the fans deserve it and we’ve been through enough heartache over the last few years, a lot of turmoil, ups and downs.”

Montgomery paid for it with his job and, given the circumstances of Hanlon’s situation, it raised a question. Last week it was announced that the 34-year-old, along with another long-serving Hibee Lewis Stevenson, would end their Hibs careers this summer after playing over 1100 games combined.

The prospect of a new gaffer reversing that decision to have continuity in the building is there. But Hanlon said: “There’s been a decision made. That’s as far as I know. I still feel like it is over. I’m not anticipating any changes and I’ve not had any conversations in that way. I wouldn’t say the decision was all made by any one person. There are a lot of people involved.

“There was a conversation with the manager a wee while ago that steered me in that direction, so I kind of knew it was coming. I wasn’t prepared for the reaction. It’s been incredible, it’s blown me away. It’s my club, this is where I want to be. I wanted to stay here, but the club made a decision, so I can now look forward and see what is next.”

There’s no bitterness with Montgomery’s part on the decision or his playing time as he preferred to take his share of blame for another gaffer being sacked. He continued: “Yeah, it definitely still stings, 100 per cent. You still get a guilt.

“As I’ve gotten older, you appreciate what a manager’s job is. When you are younger, you just think: ‘Play me gaffer, I’m the man’. But as you get older you’ve got to try and see the bigger picture. I’ve been lucky over the years to play as many games as I have.”

Hanlon already has interest as he explained: “There’s been a few offers, a few phone calls and a bit of interest but I’ve told everyone that I want to finish my Hibs career first. Hopefully, I’ll go on holiday knowing what I’m doing but that might be ambitious!”

And if Hibs decided to change their minds? He said: “It’s difficult to answer because I don’t see it happening. But at no stage did I picture myself leaving. This is where I wanted to be. I’d cross that bridge if it came to it, but I don’t expect it to.”