GLENN MIDDLETON has revealed how a last-gasp phone-call with Hibs manager Paul Heckingbottom convinced him to pull the plug on a switch to the Netherlands in favour of Easter Road.
The Rangers starlet looked destined to seal a loan move to Dutch second-tier outfit NAC Breda last week, with the player even travelling to Rat Verlegh Stadium for advanced talks.
However, Heckingbottom swooped at the eleventh hour when a serious knee injury to flying winger Martin Boyle left him short of numbers on the flank.
With Boyle ruled out until 2020, the Hibees head coach made a convincing case to Middleton – and the 19-year-old is adamant the offer was too good to turn down.
The former Norwich City kid phoned Heckingbottom in person after initial chats had taken place between his agents and the club, setting the wheels on motion for Middleton to pen a season-long loan deal yesterday.
Asked why he chose Hibs over NAC Breda, Middleton said: “The way the manager [Heckingbottom] spoke to me on the phone was what swung it for me.
“I heard the things he had to say about the club and I was pretty much set in my mind after that phone call that I’d really like to come to Hibs.
“When you get the opportunity to play for this sort of club in this stature of league, you can’t really turn that chance down.”
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Middleton’s move along the M8 comes just 48 hours after Rangers humbled hapless Hibs 6-1 at Ibrox.
Nevertheless, he has no doubt Easter Road is the perfect place for him to kick-start his career after glowing references from a swathe of Scotland under-21 team-mates and ex-Rangers defender Steven Whittaker.
He continued: “I spoke to Ryan Porteous, Fraser Murray and Oli Shaw, who I know from Scotland duty, about the move and they all said really good things about the club.
“Whitts [Steven Whittaker] chipped in as well – so I’m just really excited to get going now.
“It was good to get a few different opinions about the club and, from what people were saying, it was clear this was the right option for me.”
Middleton burst onto the scene for Rangers in sensational style last season, scoring five goals in 28 appearances and shining in the Europa League against the likes of Spartak Moscow, Villarreal and Rapid Vienna.
He also got a taste of the Old Firm derby cauldron last September as Rangers lost 1-0 at Celtic Park.
However, it became apparent that his first-team opportunities would be limited in Govan this term following the arrivals of Jordan Jones, Sheyi Ojo and Greg Stewart – and he signs on in Leith with a point to prove.
He added: “I’m very hungry and I’ve got a real desire to succeed in my career and do well.
“Hopefully, this season I can really kick-start things again. I want to show people what I am really capable of doing, through goals and assists.”
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Middleton insists he is ready for a quick-fire debut on Saturday when Hibs host Morton on Saturday in the Betfred Cup last 16, adding: “Absolutely. I can’t wait to go out there and show people what I’m about.”
After finally getting his man, Heckingbottom beamed: “I think our supporters will enjoy watching Glenn play. He’s direct, quick and will add different qualities to the squad. From our conversations he’s clearly desperate to play for this club.”