BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
As he manfully battled back 15 months of injury torment, Conrad Logan happily admits would have considered playing a single reserve match in front of one man in his dog a personal success story this season.
Instead, he will go down in history as the man between the sticks when Hibernian finally ended 114 years of hurt to claim the Scottish Cup. A cult hero following the semi-final win over Dundee United, he is now a bona fide legend.
It has been a remarkable journey for the big Irishman, who suffered a ruptured achilles tendon during a loan spell with Rochdale in December 2014 before being released by parent club Leicester City last summer, ending a 14-year association with the Foxes.
Alan Stubbs took a punt on Logan in March but, after fighting back to full fitness and finally getting his chance due to a suspension to regular number one Mark Oxley, he faced jibes about his weight as he lined up against United at Hampden in the semi.
Yet he had the last laugh, turning in a man-of-the-match display in the penalty shoot-out triumph and almost single-handedly setting up Hibs’ date with destiny.
And, after experiencing an open-top bus parade through Edinburgh comparable to what his former club enjoyed after winning the Barclay’s Premier League this term, it is impossible to grudge the amiable stopper his day in the sun.
Logan recalled: “I did not even start jogging until February having been out for 15 months so really everything was geared towards next season – I was told that I wouldn’t play this season.
“I personally always thought if I could play a game this season, even just a reserve game – just anything to get back and keep me ticking over the summer and into pre-season.
“I would have been happy to play in front of a handful of people but now we’ve had this. A Scottish Cup win. That’s how mad it has been for the past couple of months.
“I had only trained a couple of times with a goalkeeping coach before I got a call from Hibs to say there’s a chance of a game in three weeks and will I be fit? At the time I thought ‘probably not!’
“I decided to give it a go and the more I trained I felt alright and it’s been a good stepping stone for me to keep going over the summer and to crack on. The carrot was dangled and I’ve managed to get it.
“I am just grateful to do what we did and the parade was unbelievable. I have seen parades, and fans always line the streets, but once we started moving the fans came with us. There was green and white everywhere. It was like the pied piper!”
The achievements of Logan, universally respected at Leicester after his years as a diligent backup and massive character in the Foxes dressing room, have not gone unnoticed at the King Power.
Among the swathes of text messages from his former teammates has been Jamie Vardy, deep in preparation for his own crack at history as England ready themselves for the European Championships in France.
He continued: “Jamie has been in touch and a lot of the other lads are in Thailand. The owner is from there so they have gone on tour, but I had messages from a few of the boys, which was great.
“They’ve probably been drunk for the last couple of weeks so I doubt they will have seen much of our Scottish Cup win!
“It’s unbelievable what they have achieved on a bigger scale with one of smaller budgets to win Premier League. For them to do that and us to win the Scottish Cup, it’s been an incredible year.”
With his contract set to expire at the end of this month, the question for Hibs supporters is now: will Logan stay at the club? There may be a blockade at Edinburgh Airport to block his path if he tries to leave, such is his popularity.
He added: “I have literally not spoken to anyone about it, I came up here to have a go at it for a couple of months see what happens. I told my agent ‘if there’s any interest don’t tell me until after the last game’. I’ll wait and see how it is over the next couple of months.”