Socceroo Martin Boyle has vowed to follow his father’s mantra and play with a smile on his face at Hampden as he looks to make the difference again for Hibernian.
The Australia international, who was born and raised in Scotland, hit a semi-final hat-trick as Hibs beat Rangers to set up Sunday’s League Cup final meeting with Ange Postecoglou’s Celtic.
Winger Boyle, one of the team’s jokers as well as their key attackers, explained that it was the mentality of his Australian dad Graeme that he carried with him into the biggest matches.
“Just go out there and play with a smile on your face – that’s what my dad always used to say to me when I was a young boy and he still says it to this day every week,” explained the 28-year-old, who decided to represent Australia because of his dad’s nationality.
“That’s all you can do. If you play with a smile on your face and you love playing football, performances will come, as long as you work hard and give everything.”
Boyle put smiles on thousands of Hibernian fans’ faces when he downed Rangers with his now famed first-half treble.
“I will need a miracle for that to happen again!” he laughed.
“It was just one of those days when everything fell for me, everything dropped, which was great.
“The squad played fantastically that day and the fans were excellent. So, fingers crossed, more of the same on Sunday.”
The semi-final victory over Rangers was a welcome surprise for many Hibs fans after so many previous Hampden disappointments.
Hibs had lost six of their previous seven visits to the national stadium, culminating in their Scottish Cup final defeat by St Johnstone in May.
“We were in the final last season and we know we didn’t turn up that day,” Boyle said.
“So I think it’s important that we rectify that, get the trust of the fans back and show that we are more than capable of winning the game.”
Boyle saw his spirits temporarily deflated last week when Jack Ross, a popular figure in the dressing room, was sacked as Hibs head coach.
Shaun Maloney looks likely to be installed as a permanent successor but former skipper David Gray will be in charge for a third game at Hampden.
Boyle admits it has been “fantastic” to have had his former teammate’s settling influence following the shock news.
“For him to step away from playing football and take the role that he did was obviously a tough decision, and one that I don’t think he looks back on,” Boyle said of Gray, who joined the coaching staff in the summer.
“He is more than happy. He is great around the dressing room. Adapting from being captain to keeping himself distanced from the boys was a big decision.
“He has been fantastic and I think he will have a big future in the game, if it’s management or helping out on the side.”