Matt Macey could never have envisaged 2021 would see him play in two cup finals after admitting feeling “a little bit lost” in his career just 12 months ago.
The goalkeeper will line up for Hibernian at Hampden again on Sunday in the Premier Sports Cup final against Celtic.
The 27-year-old was no stranger to the big occasion having been on the bench when Arsenal won the delayed 2020 FA Cup final against Chelsea.
But he only made two first-team appearances for the Gunners in more than seven years in north London and being so near but so far from the action gave him itchy feet.
Macey has found a home at Easter Road following his January move and established himself as number one this season after playing in the club’s run to the Scottish Cup final last season, where they lost to St Johnstone.
“I have loved it here, really enjoyed it,” Macey said. “This time last year I was a little bit lost in my career and I wasn’t sure where I was going to go.
“I came in in January and it all changed. I managed to get myself in the team and I am loving every minute of it.
“It speaks volumes about where this club is at now and where we are heading that we are regularly going to Hampden. This is the fourth time I will be going to Hampden in a year.
“One of the reasons I wanted to come here in the first place was to play in big games and have this opportunity and a club like Hibs would regularly want to be in those situations.
“I was at a stage where I was looking at it and thinking what’s the point in being around it but not being on the pitch or even on the bench, just being part of the squad? I wanted that experience for myself and thankfully that has paid off.
“I always knew there was going to be a time I had to move on from Arsenal and make my career my own almost.
“Winning the FA Cup the season before I left and making the bench, it’s just not the same as when you are really a part of it.
“These experiences have been far superior in my career because I have been a proper part of it.”
Macey could not say he took a lot from last season’s final but he will draw on the experience of beating Rangers in the semi-finals this season.
“It’s difficult to say because there were no fans there,” he said of the Saints defeat. “I think I took more away from the semi-final this season.
“Being at Hampden without fans was a taste before the big event. It was a disappointing result and that is fuelling the fire to put things right this season.”
Hibs were Hampden favourites in three semi-finals and a final last season but their best performance of recent times came when they shocked Rangers.
However, Macey does not view them as underdogs ahead of the game against Celtic.
“Some people might look at it that way but I fancy us to go and beat anyone on our day,” he said.
“It’s a cup final, underdogs and favourites doesn’t really happen that often. It’s a cup final and we know if we are at our best we can beat anyone.”
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