BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
Former Hibs striker Garry O’Connor admits he dreams of returning to Easter Road as manager after vowing to make the most of his coaching career.
The 32-year-old was named as boss of Lowland League outfit Selkirk on Sunday following the departure of Steve Forrest – and is determined to “prove a few people wrong” by rising through the divisions.
And the ex-Scotland internationalist would love to one day earn a place in the dugout at Hibs, where he scored 74 goals over two spells.
O’Connor remains in contact with Hibees chairman Rod Petrie, academy manager Eddie May, while his son, Josh, is part of the Hibs youth system.
He told Capital City Press: “My ambition would be to come back to Hibs, whether as a manager or assistant. To be back at a club you love is always an aspiration.
“You can never rule anything out in football, it’s a crazy world.
“I still speak to a lot of people at Hibs. I still chat to [chairman] Rod Petrie, I am very friendly with him. I talk to Eddie May and all the coaches – my wee man [Josh] is in their academy.
“I still go in and see Tam and Joyce [McCourt], the kit staff, for a coffee!
“As well as Hibs, I still have contacts and friends south of the border in the Premier League, so you never know what the future holds.
“I’m ambitious, and you’ve got to be ambitious. Selkirk is a stepping stone in the right direction and I am focused on putting a good team on the pitch and trying to compete in the Lowland League.”
Despite winning 16 caps, lifting the Russian Cup and playing in the English Premier League, many argue O’Connor is one of Scotland’s great unfulfilled talents.
He does not shy away from the errant decisions he made – and is ready to pour every bit of that experience into his burgeoning coaching career.
O’Connor continued: “I maybe could have done more, I made some wrong choices, on and off the pitch. But that part of my life is done and there’s nothing I can do about it now.
“I’m in a place now where I want to be positive and look ahead to the next challenge.
“I have a lot of life experience. If I can coach them the right way, drawing on experience all over the world, then I will do that. Off the pitch, if I can use my experience to help the boys then I will.
“I’m passionate about this opportunity. Football is the only thing I know. I have been involved in the game since I was a kid and this is a new chapter in my career. Hopefully I can take this chance and prove a few people wrong about me.”
O’Connor, who is studying for his Uefa “B” Licence, can count Hibs, Peterhead, Birmingham, Barnsley, Tom Tomsk, Morton and, now, Selkirk on a varied CV.
However, it is the style of Tony Mowbray that he will attempt to replicate.
He explained: “I’ll always take inspiration from my time at Hibs working under Tony Mowbray.
“The way he managed the team and the way he tried to get us to play; it was a fantastic time and a style I would like to replicate in my coaching.
“I’ve inherited a good team from the ex-manager [Forrest] and I will try to install in the players a desire to play a passing game and work the ball from the back.”
A £16,000-a-week football at one stage, O’Connor insists he had no doubts about cutting his teeth in the unglamorous surroundings of the Lowland League.
He added: “It is a chance for me to get myself on the ladder and hopefully move up the leagues. I’m starting at the bottom and I hope that shows I am dedicated and willing to put in the graft and work needed to be successful at Selkirk.”