Didier Agathe tips Shaun Maloney to be Hibs derby hero as he reveals infamous Hearts sitter still haunts him

Didier Agathe is hoping his mate Shaun Maloney can get it right first time at Tynecastle for Hibs unlike him.

The ex-winger is heading to Thailand to continue his coaching career in the Far East.

Before he gets there, he hopes Maloney has gone to Gorgie and proved himself king in the east of Scotland.

Agathe didn’t manage that himself as, although he wasn’t a Hibs player for long, he was around long enough to know how a Capital Derby can shape opinions.

Signed from Raith Rovers in 2000, he was plunged into a debut at Tynecastle and had a nightmare as he missed an open goal to seal a win.

Agathe went past Steven Pressley before rounding Antti Niemi to leave himself a tap-in, only to lose his footing and fluff the chance.

Incredibly, after being hooked after the hour for RecordSport columnist Tam McManus, he went onto score four in his next two games for Alex McLeish’s men against the Dundee teams to seal a quickfire move out of Leith to Celtic.

Agathe felt he had to do something after the Tynie torment as he explained: “If you win these games you can become a hero. I suppose some people will say if you lose them you are no good, but that’s the game.

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“I played in one derby for Hibs against Hearts and I won’t forget it because there was a chance in the game and I missed an easy goal.

“Right away, people started to talk about me. It was strange because, when I came to Scotland, everyone thought I was a striker and I wasn’t.

“I was a winger and I didn’t have a left foot when you put me in front of the goal, so I’m sure what was expected.

“When I missed that chance, people said: Oh he’s as**t a striker! I was not feeling so good, especially as I knew it myself!

“Luckily, when Martin O’Neill took me to Celtic, he played me as a winger and that was a bit easier. I did the job once against Aberdeen when Henrik Larsson, Chris Sutton and John Hartson were all injured and I scored the winner.

“Anyway, luckily, I managed to score goals in my next Hibs games after Hearts and make the fans forget about the miss a little.

“I have to be honest, that miss against Hearts ended up helping me. I had extra motivation to do it that day because I knew what had happened before and there is no doubt it is the most-important match of them all for the Hibs supporters.

“All the clubs in Scotland would like to beat Celtic and Rangers. But I know that if they had the choice to beat one team, it would be Hearts.”

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Didier Agathe celebrates his strike with the Hibs fans in August 2000

Maloney now has his first chance to do the business against Hibs’ big rivals in their own backyard when he goes across the city for Saturday’s Premiership crunch.

The boss got a performance out of his team when they drew 0-0 in his first Edinburgh Derby on home soil at the start of the February.

However, it’s into enemy territory with a place in the Premiership top-six on the line.

Maloney will go straight from Gorgie to Hampden for his next assignment when the teams face off again seven days later in a Scottish Cup semi-final.

Two momentous wins would rocket Maloney’s status amongst the Hibee faithful and Agathe knows the importance of the outcomes.

He said: “That is the ideal scenario for Shaun. To get the wins. He will know this.

“I’ve always liked Shaun because he is a terrific guy and a very nice person. He was also a brilliant player and I really hope he does well in the job.

“He deserves it because he learned some coaching at Wigan, he learned with Belgium and he also did some coaching with the Under-23s at Celtic, I believe.

“I have no doubts at all about his ability to be a manager. It would be unfair of me to talk about the way he coaches or manages because I haven’t been in there and seen him doing it.

“That means I would be crazy to answer the question directly. But I know him as a person and a player and he was strong. That will help him in these games, I’m sure.”

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Before the clash in the last-four of the Scottish Cup, Agathe will have headed across the globe to start the next chapter of his coaching life which, ultimately, he hopes ends up back in Scotland.

He said: “I am going to Thailand next week to be a manager there and I am also going to be a head of coaching at a primary school because I am still learning.

“It is exciting and I hope that one day I can come back to Scotland and be a manager myself like Shaun is or the rest of the managers.

“Of course, I have to learn to walk before I can start running, but it is important to have a dream and that is my dream.”


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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