Daryl Horgan insists the opportunity to work with Paul Heckingbottom has been a long time coming as he shines under the Hibernian head coach.
The Republic of Ireland international has revealed that he went on trial with Barnsley as a fresh-faced youngster when Heckingbottom was still the head of youth at Oakwell.
Several years later, Heckingbottom then tried to snap up the winger from Dundalk after becoming Tykes boss, only to get priced out of a deal as Horgan joined Preston.
However, their partnership has been worth the wait, with the 26-year-old turning in a string of impressive showings since the Englishman’s arrival, culminating in his match-winning brace in Hibs’ 2-1 triumph over Hearts on Saturday.
Horgan said: “I was on trial at Barnsley when he [Heckingbottom] was the youth-team coach. Our paths have actually crossed a couple of times.
“I was aware that he was interested in me at Barnsley – but we’ve not spoken about that since! It just didn’t work out and I ended up going to Preston.
“So, it’s funny how things end up happening and we’re both here now at the same time. It’s good that he knew about me but I still need to go out there and do the business.
“It’s not just me, he’s been really good for everyone here.”
Horgan’s heroics cancelled out Peter Haring’s first-half opener to secure a maiden win at Tynecastle for Hibs since 2013.
They have now taken 20 points out of a possible 24 in the Premiership since Heckingbottom took up the reins.
However, Horgan is keen to guard against complacency.
He continued: “The run we’ve been on since he came in has been unbelievable. We’re unbeaten in eight [league matches] and we’re playing some good stuff.
“There are a lot of good signs, but it doesn’t really mean anything if we throw it away in the last five games.”
Meanwhile, Hearts defender John Souttar reckons the Jambos were denied a clear penalty when the score was delicately balanced at 1-1.
The Scotland defender appeared to be clipped inside the box by Stephane Omeonga on the stroke of half-time but referee Willie Collum waved away the appeals.
Souttar said: “If we get that [penalty] it completely changes the game in our favour.
“When we both reflect later, there will be things I could have done better in my game. But I’m sure he [Collum] will be thinking the same.
“I thought it was a stonewaller.”