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Newell knows the significance of a Hibernian victory at Hampden

The Hibs midfielder has witnessed David Gray's place in fans' affections.

Newell knows the significance of a Hibernian victory at Hampden SNS Group

Hibernian midfielder Joe Newell does not expect caretaker manager David Gray to regale his players with stories of his Hampden heroics ahead of the Premier Sports Cup final.

But Newell has witnessed the adulation directed towards Gray enough times to appreciate the reverence awaiting them if they add to the club’s trophy haul on Sunday.

Gray will take charge of Hibs against Celtic looking to join Eddie Turnbull in a very small group of people who have lifted silverware as players and manager of the Edinburgh side.

The 33-year-old captained Hibs to their first Scottish Cup triumph in 114 years, netting the last-gasp winner to break one of Scottish football’s biggest hoodoos.

“To be honest, if there’s one person who speaks about it the least, it’s probably Dave,” Newell said.

“I have played golf with him a couple of times and anyone just comes up to him. He gets it everywhere he goes, I’m sure. He can’t go anywhere.

“That’s what comes with it. He obviously has that legendary status forever now. It just shows the size of the club and how much it means to the fans.

“To win a cup with this club would be huge. I know how much it would mean to the fans. I get told often that you get this legendary status if you win a cup with this club.

“To be part of a team that could do that by beating Celtic in the final would be massive.”

Newell has seen footage of the celebrations in 2016, when an estimated 150,000 people turned out to hail the Hibs players in the Scottish capital.

“If people weren’t aware, it shows the size of the club when you see the celebrations from that day,” the 28-year-old said.

“People still talk about it and how much it means to everyone. It shows how special it would be if we lifted the cup.”

Hibs have been regulars at Hampden since Newell arrived in the summer of 2019 but the semi-final win over Rangers was by far the best experience for the midfielder.

Hibs played in three semi-finals and a final behind closed doors and Newell knows the main ingredient was missing.

The former Peterborough and Doncaster player said: “That day it was amazing to silence the Rangers fans like we did and to hear the Hibs fans signing and cheering when we scored.

“The atmosphere was amazing when we were winning, and the scenes afterwards were amazing when we were celebrating in front of them. That will live long in my memory. It was a really special day.

“Having the fans back is massive, it’s just so much better.

“Last year, well I suppose you might forget from the way we played, but you kind of forget we were in the Scottish Cup final at times because there was no one there. It’s going to be a lot different on Sunday.”