STEPHEN McGINN has confessed to a sense of disappointment that his family will not be afforded the opportunity to watch his brothers line up together for Scotland as he hailed Paul’s remarkable rise to join John in the international set-up.
Paul McGinn, who can cover at right-back or centre-half, was drafted into Steve Clarke’s group yesterday afternoon following several Covid-19 and injury-related call-offs.
It was a fairytale day for the 29-year-old, who also signed a new contract which ties him to the Easter Road outfit until the summer of 2022, with the option of a further year beyond that.
Friday’s dream double was a fitting reward for his faultless consistency since joining Hibs last January, underlined by the fact he is ranked second among all Premiership right-backs this season according to the respected Instat index, only behind James Tavernier.
Paul’s arrival on the international stage would have seemed unlikely seven years ago when he was lining up for Queen’s Park on Saturdays and crunching numbers for investment banking company during the week.
And while Paul’s journey may have been a more circuitous one than Aston Villa superstar John, who always seemed fated for a fine career, Stephen reckons it is no less laudable.
“Paul was a clever boy at school then had a good job at Morgan Stanley,” recalled Stephen. “But he was doing quite well at Queen’s Park when I played down in England and just kept pushing the boundaries. He thought ‘Stephen’s doing it, John’s doing it, so why not?’
“Paul worked his way up through Dumbarton, Dundee and then when we re-signed him at St Mirren from Partick [in 2018], I felt he had gone up another level.
“With the quality of his teammates and the manager at Hibs, he has improved again and I’m not surprised to see him get this opportunity.
“Paul has reached a level now where he is one of the most consistent full-backs in the league and it’s testament to where he has come from, how hard he has worked and how he has stuck at it.
“John has got to an unbelievable height – of course – but the journey Paul has been on is so different. He was part-time, did different jobs and to see him get to this level gives me immense pride.”
Paul may be handed the opportunity to line up alongside John in the upcoming Nations League encounters against Slovakia and Czech Republic, in doing so becoming the first brothers to play together for Scotland since the Caldwells.
Stephen and his parents, Stephen Sr and Mary, would love nothing more than to be in attendance; a dream dashed by the Covid-19 crisis.
“The one big frustration will probably be if they both get a run-out and not being able to go,” he rued. “That would be a killer for my mum and dad, who normally go everywhere to watch.”
But what do they think of Paul’s call-up? “My parents don’t even speak to me any more. They just speak to them!”
Stephen, meanwhile, has spoken of the gut-wrenching feeling of watching John take the first spot-kick in Thursday night’s nerve-shredding shoot-out against Israel – and is praying he doesn’t step up if Scotland go the distance in Serbia next month.
“John told me after he missed against Brondby [for Hibs in 2016] that he was never talking one again unless it goes to sudden death – then he’s first up,” he continued.
“Ofir [Marciano] clearly knows that’s the way he goes as well, but he just creeps it in. “That sudden feeling of ‘aw naw, he’s actually hitting one’ to the relief of it going in . . . . that was something.
“But unless he hits it better, maybe he’s not the man for Serbia!”