Hibs captain David Gray became an instant legend when he helped get the Scottish Cup monkey off the club’s back – but that did not stop besotted supporters jumping on his.
The right-back’s popularity among the Hibs fans rocketed after scoring a life-changing injury-time winner in last May’s dramatic 3-2 Hampden triumph over Rangers and the Easter Road faithful cannot get enough of him.
Following the open top bus parade in front of over 150,000 supporters, Gray thought he had managed to escape the euphoric celebrations with a family holiday in Majorca.
Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s mouth-watering Scottish Cup fifth round trip to fierce city rivals Hearts in what is a rerun of last season’s tie at the same stage, the 28-year-old said: “I obviously get a lot more attention. And it’s nice to hear stories of people coming up to you and saying ‘my dad has been going to Hibs games for years and he never thought he’d see the day’.
“All that is very humbling from my point of view. But I think I’ll appreciate it more once I finish my career, when I have time to reflect on it and think back to it.
“Where’s the strangest place I’ve been recognised? A couple of days after the cup final my wife, Haley, was heavily pregnant and we flew out to Majorca.
“I wanted to take myself away from all the hype.
“I was catching up on social media on all the things that were going on back home and Hailey said to me, ‘I’m glad we’re here, cos I would never see you.’
“About 10 minutes later we were walking through this wee quiet street when this big drunk Scotsman ran up and jumped on my back. I got quite a fright, I was pushing a pram at the time. I’m thinking, ‘what’s going on here?’
“We were just walking along and I think he was sitting in terraced area outside a restaurant.
“We had just been somewhere to eat and we were walking aorund.”
Gaining promotion back to the top flight is Hibs’ priority and they are on course to achieve that objective after opening up a six point gap at the Championship summit.
But right-back Gray is greedy and insists he would love to play his part in adding successive Scottish Cup titles.
He said: “The objective is to get promoted and we know we need to get promoted this year but it took us 114 years to win the Scottish Cup and to go and do it twice, imagine the outcome of that.
“That’s at the forefront of our minds and we’ll apply ourselves to go and do that.
“I’ve missed the derbies to be honest because obviously in the last two seasons there’s not been as many, there’s no better occasion than going over there and trying to turn over your closest rivals.
“It’s something we’re striving to do.”
With nine new January recruits, Hearts have turned a corner under Ian Cathro after beating Rangers and Motherwell but Gray is adamant they can eliminate their rivals from the competition for the second season running.
He added: “They’re doing what we want to be doing, we want to be challenging in the top half of the Premiership and I think we’re good enough to do that.
“It’s good and well saying that but the fact is we’re sitting in the Championship and it’s a really tough league to get out of.
“It’s up to other people to say what the gulf is but we know on our day we’re pretty much a match for anybody. We’re only worrying about ourselves and if anybody wants to compare us that’s up to them.”