21 Midfielder Hibernian Scotland
Well made, deceptively quick midfield conductor learning his trade in the zone between the top two divisions of Scottish football.
A graduate from St Mirren’s Ralston Academy and a pupil of highly regarded youth coach David Longwell, McGinn made his debut for the Buddies at Celtic in 2012 and featured in their Scottish League Cup winning team that year. Going on to make more than 80 appearances for the Paisley outfit, McGinn has gradually worked his way up through the ranks of international youth football and is the current captain of the Scottish under 21 team.
2015 has been…
One step back to make five forward. In December last year when we released the #IBWM100 for 2015, St Mirren were bottom of their league, hemorrhaging goals and struggling to score. Performances were limp and all action McGinn had recently suffered a knee injury which had wiped out all of the previous month. Nevertheless, despite everything working against him we had no hesitation in selecting the Glasgow born midfielder.
John McGinn looks like few of the players we’ve selected over the last few years. In terms of build and gait, he sits somewhere between to Paul Gascoigne and Frank Lampard. He is, though, a controller of games par excellence; a see-er of passes able to map out impending play and execute moves perfectly, even if his colleagues are not as finely tuned.
Indeed, it was very clear that McGinn was a cut above his colleagues as St Mirren stumbled toward relegation, but the training ground ‘spearing’ suffered in April (for which McGinn has subsequently taken legal action against the club) must have made the obvious blindingly clear; it was time to move on.
With no shortage of interest in Scotland and beyond (he enjoyed a trial with Owen Coyle’s Houston Dynamo) McGinn raised eyebrows by signing on for Championship giants Hibernian. Although the transfer would see him drop down a division, Hibs had remained dogged in their pursuit of the player and made it clear that this was the sensible development move. With game time more or less guaranteed and the chance to blossom ensured, McGinn, following discussions with his family, made the move to Easter Road.
The Scottish Championship has been exceptionally watchable over the last two years, with Hearts, Hibs and Rangers – monoliths of the game – all taking part. However, it is Alan Stubbs’ Green and Whites that have played some of the most inventive football. After a relatively pedestrian start – understandable after the injury suffered in April - McGinn is now flying in Edinburgh. Composed, willing and seeing moves well before they happen, Hibernian can be a joy to watch with their young general pulling the strings.
The move to Hibs has turned out to be one of the most successful transfers of anyone we’ve covered over the last five years. A player that needed games and a chance to thrive has gained both and his confidence is surging. While the cynical may suggest that McGinn is operating at his top level in current surroundings, we’d suggest that there is a lot more to come and here is a player that could really go places. If you don’t want to take our word for it, ask anyone watching Hibernian on a weekly basis, they'll surely concur. Having made such a strong impression at Under 21 level, a first full cap could well be close too. All in all, things are turning out nicely.
Hibs may or may not return to their rightful place in the top flight this season, but McGinn is assured of a place there, or even higher, very soon.
C+ Difficult terrain navigated, bossing the league
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