BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
Edinburgh City’s towering stalwart Joe Mbu has revealed he was released by Hibs for being too small.
Now the no-nonsense centre-half is determined to cut his old club down to size when Neil Lennon takes his Hibees to Meadowbank.
Now built like a heavyweight boxer, Mbu, 34, has been a rock in the City defence for the past two years and played a pivotal role in their historic promotion to league football last term.
He still wonders what might have been if his remarkable growth spurt had occurred earlier, but nevertheless he has enjoyed a fine career in league football, including starring in the Championship for Cowdenbeath.
It adds an extra dimension to the clash between the sides on July 7, which will see Lennon take charge of Hibs in Edinburgh for the first time with a sell-out predicted.
He said: “I started off at Hibs and really enjoyed it at the time. But it was the old issue of size because I was a midget! I wasn’t getting a game in front of guys who already, at the age of 14, were 6’1 and 6’2.
“I never sprouted until I was about 19. I liked Donald Park a lot when I was at Hibs and when I bumped in to him again he was said “Joe!? Wee Joe!?” He helped me a lot and if I had any questions that’s who I went to.
“He tried hard to get me to stay at Hibs but I got a bit disillusioned. Not a single player came through from that batch. That’s what’s disappointing.
“There were some decent players in the team, it’s just unfortunate because at that time it was ‘if you’re not big enough you’re not going to play’. If only I’d sprouted a few years earlier.”
“So, playing Hibs is perfect, especially with the amount of their supporters in the team. It’ll be interesting to see Neil Lennon snarling away on the touchline as well – hopefully he’ll be going crazy because the boys are playing that well.”
Mbu, promoting the cheapest season tickets in the SPFL, admits he was on the cusp of retirement in the close season – before getting the green light from partner Janice to play on, but reckons it was through gritted teeth.
The former East Fife defender smiled: “Being continually pestered by the manager Gary [Jardine] and the rest of the players is what changed my mind.
“In the end my girlfriend Janice was like ‘if you want to keep playing, just keep playing’ but I think secretly so angry it’s unbelievable! I’ve made the decision now so I can’t go back on it. Maybe she’s hoping I get an injury or something.”