Martin Boyle shelled out thousands to jet family out to Dubai – only for the Hibs ace to take the first flight home

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MARTIN BOYLE broke the bank to ensure his entire family could soak up the sun in Dubai while watching him star for Australia in the Asian Cup.

However, the Hibernian winger is adamant that financial hit was nothing compared to the agony of missing out on a major finals with his adopted nation.

Boyle was seen as a potential break-out star for the Socceroos at the tournament, having dazzled national boss Graham Arnold with his showings for Hibs before bagging a brace on his first start against Lebanon in Sydney last November.

The 25-year-old, who is eligible for Australia due to his dad Graeme, waltzed into Arnold’s squad for the Asian Cup in the UAE – only to suffer serious knee ligament damage in a preparatory friendly against Oman.

As a heartbroken Boyle was returning from the Middle-East – his upgrade to first class doing little to numb the pain – his family were travelling in the opposite direction, under strict orders to still make the trip and enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime break.

“The injury didn’t sink in until I came back and I was told I needed an operation,” recalled Boyle. “I thought it would just be checked over and I would be out for a few weeks.

“I booked for seven of my family to go to Dubai and paid for it all. It was a hole in the pocket but I was desperate for them to come over. As I was flying home injured they were flying to Dubai! That was hard to take.

“It was a very lonely flight home. I actually got upgraded to first class, as I think people were feeling sorry for me – but I wasn’t enjoying it.

“I remember having to phone my dad and tell him I was missing out and he got upset. He didn’t even want to go but I had to reassure them it was not often that they would get to see such a nice place.

“They were there for 10 days in the end. They sent all sorts of photos back as I told them there was no point in wasting the trip. I was lying on an operating table and my family were watching Australia!”

Due to missing the Asian Cup, Boyle is yet to play a competitive match for Australia and is technically still able to represent Scotland. However, he laughed off that notion, insisting he hopes to be part of the Socceroos’ 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign when it begins in September.

“I’ve been accepted into the Socceroo family!” he smiled. “I’ll be keeping an eye out for Scotland’s results, but I’m a Socceroo now and that’s the way it’ll stay.”

However, Boyle’s teammate Marc McNulty is set to realise his Scotland dream after the Hibs striker was arguably the most surprising call-up to Alex McLeish’s group to face Kazakhstan and San Marino.

Boyle believes that honour illustrates the platform provided at Easter Road and, after six goals since arriving on loan from Reading in January, is hopeful McNulty – backed by his Edinburgh-based fan club – could be destined for a longer stay.

“We have seen players that have been given that chance – John McGinn is flying, for example – and it proves that Hibs is a platform,” added Boyle. “You just need to take your opportunity.

“Marc has done brilliantly and I’m delighted for him. He found out on Tuesday when he came off the training ground and he is buzzing.

“Hopefully, the clubs can speak if they are interested in keeping him longer. His friends and family are up in Edinburgh – he asks for about 400 tickets for every game! So, I’m sure they will be trying to convince him.”

Boyle still has not given up hope of playing some part for Hibs this term, albeit a pre-season comeback seems a more realistic proposition, and he will be charged with impressing new boss Paul Heckingbottom when he returns to the fold.

It is a challenge he will relish, having been a favourite under his departed predecessor Neil Lennon.

“I was very thankful for what Neil [Lennon] did for me personally and I’ve exchanged messages with him to thank him for that,” Boyle added. “He really gave me a chance to prove myself. He pushed me every step of the way and I’d like to think I responded.

“However, things happen in football and you need to adapt. We have a new manager now and I’m chomping at the bit to show him what I can do.”

Martin Boyle was speaking to promote Hibernian’s Player of the Year awards, which will be sponsored by Caledonian Heating and Plumbing.

Tickets for the event on Sunday 28 April at Edinburgh Corn Exchange are on sale now – either online from www.eticketing.co.uk/hibernianfc or via the club’s ticket office

 
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