RYAN PORTEOUS has revealed that his mum messaged him following Hibernian’s historic Scottish Cup triumph with a stern warning not to take part in the Hampden pitch invasion.
However, the Easter Road defender is determined to be front-and-centre when they claim their next major trophy.
The die-hard Hibee was among the delirious sea of green-and-white when David Gray converted his iconic late header to defeat Rangers 3-2 and finally secure the club’s Holy Grail.
It ended a 114-year wait for Scottish Cup glory and prompted fans to swarm onto the turf but Porteous – already on the books of Hibs but yet to feature in a senior game – stayed put.
“I was in with the fans in 2016,” recalled Porteous. “I was still in my final year at school so I was still only coming in part-time. I went with my mates to the game, and as a fan it was probably one of the best days of my life.
“My mum wasn’t at the game and she messaged me at full-time before I even had a chance to get on the pitch to say: ‘Don’t go on the pitch, you’ll get caught!’ Mum’s know best so that was that.
“But, it’s something I want to bring back to Hibs. Even thinking back to the League Cup in 2007 when we won it [against Kilmarnock], those were great occasions and those are things we haven’t had as regularly as we should, given the squad and size of club we are.
“In recent years the cup competitions have been dominated by Celtic so it’s anyone’s game with the four teams left in it. We are looking to really push on and try and make it ours.”
Following the eyebrow-raising exits of Rangers, Celtic and Aberdeen, Hibs are now the favourites to lift their first major trophy since winning that historic day in May 2016.
Porteous, however, is all-too aware that the Hibs faithful – battered by past defeats when success seemed within their grasp – will not be counting their chickens.
“Being a Hibs fan and knowing Hibs fans, they will probably be more nervous than positive,” he smiled. “We’re in a fantastic position but we can’t be looking to the final and winning the trophy when we’ve got a huge game on Saturday.”
While a mere giddy schoolboy when Hibs last secured silverware, Porteous has enjoyed some Hampden glory as a player.
Indeed, he found the net in 2018 as the Hibees’ under-20 side won the Scottish FA Youth Cup, defeating Aberdeen 3-1 in a breathless final at the national stadium.
Porteous recalls the occasion fondly and has paid tribute to former Hibs boss Neil Lennon, now embattled at Celtic, for the interest he took in the game – and the importance he played in cultivating a winning mentality.
“When you’re at under-20s level every player is like your best mate and you want to taste success with them,” Porteous recalled. “Neil Lennon was at every game and kept pushing us on to try and win these games and cups.
“He pushed us on to go and win it and we did that.
“It does give you that nice insight as to what it could be like at first team level if you can go and get success there.
“Lennon was a huge part of the early stages of my career and I owe him a lot. He showed a lot of faith in me and I thought he was a fantastic manager here – a fantastic coach and a great guy in general.
“He threw me in to the first-team, had trust in me and I thank him for that. Hopefully, he knows that.”
Porteous has come on leaps and bounds since Lennon gave him a senior debut back in July 2017 and should undoubtedly be in the conversation for a place in the Scotland squad this summer.
Statistic show he is in the top five for interceptions and tackles won in the Scottish Premiership – having played every minute in the league – he has more assists than any other centre-back and is the most fouled defender.
Porteous was part of Steve Clarke’s group for the Nations League clash against Israel last September without featuring.
“Good performances at Hibs, success here, can only improve my chances of being in the Scotland gaffer’s mind,” said Porteous. “Every Scottish player wants to be at the Euros this summer so it will be a big ask.
“But I feel like I am more than capable of putting my name in the hat.”