BY DARREN JOHNSTONE – Capital City Press
Hibs head coach Alan Stubbs has revealed he plans to enlist the help of tennis icon Andy Murray in a bid to improve the club’s chances of winning this season’s Championship.
The 2013 Wimbledon champion and brother Jamie – both self-confessed Hibs supporters – visited the Leith side’s East Mains training complex in April and mingled with both the squad and the backroom staff.
That get together is just the start of what Hibs hope can be a hugely beneficial relationship with Andy Murray.
Stubbs, head of football operations George Craig and fitness guru Craig Flannigan plan to meet up with the British number one and his team at the Queen’s Club tomorrow on the eve of the Davis Cup match against France.
Even though both sports are vastly different, Stubbs is adamant the Leith club can learn a lot from the 28-year-old.
Stubbs, who watched Murray lose to Roger Federer in last Friday’s Wimbledon semi-final, said:”Andy came out to the training centre for a visit and it was a really good day for everyone.
“He was fantastic, he really was. He spoke well with Jamie and he answered questions from the players and from myself in trying to connect dealing with expectations, dealing with pressure, trying to find that extra per cent or two per cent to make the difference and we’ve carried our relationship on.
“I am planning to go down and see him and Jamie in London and speak to all the Davis Cup team.
“It’s something that will hopefully come off and I am looking forward to it.
“He also knows he can come in and use our facilities if he is ever in Scotland. He was very impressed by our gym and what we are doing.
“I think he has spoken about it before but I think he will come in and use it whenever he is in Scotland.
“He doesn’t even have to make the phone call, he can just come in. It’s something we are looking to build with him, the relationship going forward.”
Some of the Hibs players posted selfies with Murray on Twitter and Stubbs insists the squad were all impressed by the sporting icon.
He added: “Andy has an aura about him, when you have been as close as number two in the world, you have something about you and he certainly had an aura about him. He is an inspirational figure.
“He was absolutely first class about it and I think anybody else possibly would have turned round and said: ‘I’m too busy, I can’t fit it in.’
“But he was adamant that he wanted to do it and to be honest, he went out of his way to make sure it did happen.
“When he came in he spoke really, really well. I know the players were impressed.
“He was very knowledgeable, very professional and dedicated to his sport and his lifestyle. It came across quite evidently the sacrifices he was prepared to make in order to be the best in the world.
“For me to see someone say that in front of this group of players was really important because sometimes as players we take things for granted, thinking if it’s not here it will be somewhere else.
“But he was prepared to make the sacrifices to make the small gains, and he was really, really good.”
Murray, whose grandfather Roy Erskine played for Hibs, single-handedly carries the hopes of British tennis every year at Wimbledon.
The nation celebrated when he ended the 79-year wait for a male champion in 2013 with an unforgettable victory over Novak Djokovic.
Stubbs admits he has nothing but admiration for the way Murray, who has racked up 34 career titles and amassed an estimated £25 million fortune, goes about his business.
He added: “He was very complimentary in relating the two sports because although they are professional athletes, tennis is very much an individual sport.
“Sometimes the only thing you can rely on is your staff when you turnaround.
“Even then it is very limited, it’s more support than physically helping you so he has to dig deep into his own resources to find the will to do whatever he has to do.
“I think from a mental strength point of view, tennis players are probably right up there at the pinnacle of any sports people.”