Scottish Cup: Conrad Logan & Alan Stubbs on Hibs' 2016 triumph

Conrad Logan saved penalties from Blair Spittal and Billy Mckay in the semi-final shootout
Conrad Logan saved penalties from Blair Spittal and Billy Mckay in the semi-final shootout

Conrad Logan arrived at Hibernian an unknown and left - eight games later - a legend.

A supporters club named after him, and a folk ballad written in his honour, are testament to the goalkeeper's enduring legacy.

Not bad for a bloated panic signing who had gone 16 months without a game after serious injury.

The giant Irishman helped to crush the club's 114-year Scottish Cup "curse", bringing tears of joy to supporters. And he owed it all to a wayward contact lens.

Logan never looked back from his outstanding debut in the 2016 semi-final meeting with Dundee United - the club Hibs begin this season's quest for glory against on Sunday.

But for Alan Stubbs, the manager who signed the then 29-year-old, first impressions were an alarming eye-opener.

"We were told he was training but hadn't played any games," Stubbs told BBC Scotland. "When he came up, I was surprised by how much weight he'd put on. We spoke to him about trying to lose some to give him the best chance of staying injury free."

'We didn't expect him to play'

Conrad Logan and Alan Stubbs
Alan Stubbs wasn't expecting to have to select Conrad Logan

Stubbs had been forced into the transfer market for emergency cover after a bizarre suspension to first-choice keeper Mark Oxley. As the goalie scrambled around half-blind on the pitch in the quarter-final win at Inverness Caledonian Thistle looking for an errant contact lens, he was booked for time-wasting.

It ruled him out of the semi-final and the hand of fate crooked a finger south to a keeper who had been on Leicester's books since his teens but spent much the time since being shunted around England's lower leagues on loan.

"It was a bit of a panic job to get someone in at short notice," Stubbs says. "We had been made aware of Conrad and his pedigree and experience fitted what we were looking for. We didn't necessarily expect him to play. I didn't ever envisage it working out the way it did."

Logan was without a club and down on his luck, having snapped his Achilles on loan at Rochdale 14 months previously. The chance of a trial at Easter Road was a glimmer of light after a dark recovery period that had left him fearing for his career.

"I'd only trained for a couple of days before I went to Hibs and you couldn't even call it training, it was a bit of goalie work, some handling," the current Mansfield Town keeper told BBC Scotland.

"At the time I just thought at the worst it's eight weeks' training and sit on the bench for the semi-final. But once you get there and get flying around again, you're thinking, 'I feel like I can play.'"

Logan proved looks can be deceiving as he quickly won over the manager.

"As soon as he went into training, he had an immediate impact," Stubbs says. "He fitted in really well and that was one of the reasons we decided to give him a short-term contract."

'Clown' Cummings & snubbing spot-kick research

Conrad Logan helped Hibs to Scottish Cup success during his short stint
Logan reclaimed his place for the Scottish Cup final

Logan's debut has come to define his career. Hibs were abject, their keeper's performance anything but as he kept the Hampden tie goalless with a clutch of terrific saves.

"I had no time to have any nerves because I didn't know I was playing until we got to Hampden. It was more excitement on my part considering I had not played for so long."

Striker Jason Cummings could have made Logan's shift less fraught when presented with a first-half penalty. He opted for a Panenka-style dink, and left his colleagues dumbfounded as it sailed over the bar.

"Clown," Logan laughs. "I was like, 'What the hell are you doing?' Now knowing him like I do, he's a character and I'm not surprised he tried it."

Stubbs adds: "Jason was so disappointed at half-time we had to speak to him about it and tell him it's gone. The only thing he could do about it was put it right. It wouldn't have surprised me if he had tried the same thing again with his second penalty."

After 120 minutes, redemption beckoned in a shootout. Cummings obliged, scoring the winning spot-kick, but only after his keeper had saved United's first two attempts.

"I probably was feeling unbeatable going into the shootout," Logan says. "I was so revved from the game.

"Alan Combe, the goalkeeping coach, had researched United's penalties. He came to me and said, 'Do you want to have a look?' and I said, 'Nah, you're all right.' I just thought, this could be one of those days. It couldn't have gone much better."

'We'd been labelled bottlers'

Hibs fans lined the streets of Edinburgh for the triumphant team's open-top bus parade
Hibs fans lined the streets of Edinburgh for the triumphant team's open-top bus parade

Logan's reward for his heroics was swift and painful. He was dropped for the next two games as Oxley returned. His contribution wasn't over yet, though.

"We got to the last two matches in the league, where it didn't mean a lot as we were going to be in the play-offs. The manager pulled me aside and said, 'Listen, you're going to play.' I kept two clean sheets and he kept me in for the play-offs and the cup final."

Championship rivals Rangers awaited at Hampden and Hibs headed into the showpiece still smarting from defeat by Falkirk in the play-off semi-final, consigning them to a third season in the second tier.

The club's 114-year wait for Scottish Cup success looked like torturing their fans for a while longer.

"Rangers had already sewn up the league and people just expected them to win," Stubbs says. "After the Falkirk defeat there were a lot of accusations pointed towards us, saying we had bottled it. But I had 100% trust in the players that they could respond."

From the moment he arrived, Logan had been left in no doubt about the importance of bringing the trophy back to Easter Road for the first time since 1902.

"Honestly, it was literally from the moment I got off the plane. Graeme Mathie picked me up and George Craig dropped me off and they were saying this is crazy, we haven't won it for so long, if you do it, it will be incredible.

"I was just like, whatever. I was thinking winning promotion was more important. I didn't realise the magnitude of it, probably until the semi-final. You hear they 'Hibsed it' before."

Rangers were dispatched 3-2 in a captivating final, David Gray's 90th-minute header sparking jubilation among Hibs' long-suffering supporters.

"The open-top bus parade on the Sunday was mad," Logan says. "The amount of people who turned up was incredible, they were coming from everywhere. It's something that will live with me forever.

"I haven't made it back up since. Everyone tells me I'll never have to buy a pint in Edinburgh again, so I'm definitely going to come up. It would be nice to do it if they reach the semi-final this year."

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