Hibs striker Jamie Maclaren insists the club have pulled off a major coup by recruiting Mark Milligan after insisting that his international team-mate is one of the best players Australia has ever produced.
From a country that has spawned the likes of Tim Cahill, Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka down the years, and has Celtic’s Tom Rogic as a current cap, Maclaren’s statement is high praise.
Milligan is due to arrive in Edinburgh at the start of this week after signing a two-year deal on Saturday in a move from Saudi outfit Al Ahli.
The 33-year-old will add a wealth of experience to Lennon’s squad having amassed 71 caps and been selected for the Socceroos in four separate World Cup campaigns.
Three of those appearances came in this summer’s finals in Russia and Maclaren has backed the former Melbourne Victory playmaker, who has also plied his trade in Japan and the United Arab Emirates, to make a telling impact at Easter Road.
Maclaren, who made a substitute appearance in Sunday’s 3-2 Betfred Cup victory over Ross County, said: “We have spoken and I was a bit surprised that we actually captured him.
“He is an experienced player who has been at four World Cups with Australia.
“He will bring a lot of quality to the side.
“We always talk in the national team that Mark, in terms of ability, is probably one of the best players Australia has produced.
“He has been around in Asia but he has had a fantastic career.
“Like I say, I am surprised we’ve got him but at the same time happy.
“You don’t get 71 caps for Australia if you are not a good player.
“He has been around the national team for almost 15 years. He’s a fantastic player and also a great person.
“He still has a burning ambition to play in Europe. Unfortunately, with his visa, he hasn’t been able to do that.
“Millsy is someone who is very versatile, whether he is playing in midfield as another 6, a centre-back or even at right-back, which he did in his younger days.
“He will bring leadership as well and he he is a top leader – he has captained Australia before.”
Maclaren, who is on a season-long loan from German side Darmstadt after spending the second half of last term in the capital, admits he only had good things to say about Hibs after being probed by Milligan about the Premiership club.
He added: “In the last month, we have spoken quite a bit and the conversations I had with Mark have been very positive.
“I have told him about the club. I said ‘it’s a big club mate, believe me. You will enjoy the city’.
“For him, it was about his family really enjoying life and coming over.
“I told him ‘mate, the standard is quality’.
“He wants to be a part of something successful and that’s what we’re building here.
“Even when I spoke to him at the World Cup, he was asking me about Scotland.
“He knows it through Tommy Rogic as well, and seeing (Daniel) Arzani there now.
“Even with the three boys at Hearts (Ben Garuccio, Ryan Edwards and Olly Bozanic), there is a lot of Aussie influence in Scotland now.”
Hibs manager Lennon has bolstered his squad with the signings of Milligan, Emerson Hyndman and Daryl Horgan after losing club icon John McGinn to Aston Villa.
However, Maclaren has urged the supporters not to compare the new arrivals to the Scotland internationalist.
He added: “What John has done at Hibs in the last four or five years has been fantastic.
“It has been nothing short of remarkable for his age, growing up and representing Scotland and stuff like that.
“You can’t put too much pressure on players coming in.
“Players like Emerson and Millsy and Daryl will come in with experience.
“They are their own players. You have to put John in the past now and focus on the future although what he did was fantastic.”