BY DARREN JOHNSTONE in La Manga – Capital City Press
Hibernian striker Jason Cummings has vowed to become a role model for youngsters after being given a crash course from Alan Stubbs on how to conduct himself in the public spotlight.
The talented forward netted 21 goals as the Leith outfit finished runners up in last season’s championship.
However, the 19 year-old’s exploits on the pitch were at times overshadowed by unwelcome attention away from the game.
Cummings was caught up in a bizarre muffin-throwing incident at McDonald’s in February before finding himself in the wrong place at the wrong time at a house party where a 15-year-old girl was allegedly filmed having sex while he was downstairs.
That led to head coach Stubbs demanding that the youngster changed his ways, and Cummings insists he has turned over a new leaf.
He said: “The manager has helped me a lot, I’ve been in his office a lot talking in general about football and how to conduct myself in life.
“We’ve been working on that a lot, how to conduct myself and be more professional.
“It’s good to speak to someone who knows what it’s like to be in the public spot light, all the boys get it as well.
“We’re all in the same boat and it’s good to get advice off the older players as well.
“Sometimes I can be a bit young and get a bit too excited. This season I need to calm it down a bit and concentrate on my football.
“You’ve got a lot of young kids that look up to you and for some of them, you’re their role model. You’ve got to set a standard for the young kids.
“The least I’m in his office, probably the better. For me it’s all about football. I’m just going to get my head down and work my socks off, score as many goals as I can and enjoy football.
“His door is always open and anytime you want to see him, he’s always there. He’s a good help and he’s got a lot of advice to give you.”
Last season was a harsh lesson for a youngster who now realises that his every move is under scrutiny as a professional footballer, especially when it comes to social media.
He added: “It has shocked me a little bit with the amount of people that are so interested in what you do, even in your spare time off the park.
“It’s part and parcel with the job you’re in, social media is massive and everyone wants to get photos and this and that.
“On the other side of the coin, there are always people out there that want to see you fail.
“There are always people that don’t like you doing well, it’s normally people that aren’t doing anything in their lives themselves.
“It makes you want to do better and prove everyone wrong.”
The bad news for Championship defences is that Cummings insists he feels stronger than ever and is now even more aware of what is expected of him on the pitch.
Speaking from the club’s pre-season training camp in Spain, he added: “This is the one pre-season that I feel most fit, we’re doing different things and I’m probably the fittest I’ve been. I feel much better than last season.
“I also feel I’ve improved a lot in the last season in terms of my all round play.
“The manager is always on my back to get the most out of me.
“I think I’ve been working harder for the team in general, tracking back and tackling.”
Cummings, who was playing amateur boys football just two years ago after being freed by Hearts, added: “I probably picked up a few bad habits at boys club level, probably just goal poaching but here it only gets you so far. If you look at all the top players now they work their socks off.”
The forward, meanwhile, insists he would love to surpass last season’s goal tally in his bid to help Hibs clinch the Championship title.
He added: “I was delighted to get over 20 goals, I wanted to get as many as I could. I’ve set a target for myself that I want to score more than that and I’m looking forward to it.
“It’s good, it gives you something to work towards, and it’s the same league as well.”