ROBBIE Stockdale is the first to admit that he and Paul Heckingbottom make something of an odd couple after revealing that the Hibernian management duo share a flat together in Edinburgh.

“We are different characters, different people,” notes the former Scotland internationalist with a smile.

However, the one thing they do have in common is an inextinguishable desire to guide Hibs back to European football.

Stockdale has thrived in his role as Heckingbottom’s right-hand man since arriving in February, helping to inspire an upturn in fortune in the closing months of last season and secure top-six football.


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“He knew me before Hibs and still brought me anyway. How about that?” he joked. “We’ve known each other for years. We are different characters, different people, but the end goal is exactly the same.

“That means I might go one way and he might go another way - we could have opposite ideas - but we are aiming to reach the same place.

“We compliment each other pretty well and if he’s not here and I take training, I expect the exact same standards as if he were there. There is a lot of trust there.

“I think we bounce off each other pretty well. You don’t have one person barking all the time and another with the arm around the shoulder. You’ve got to mix it up and we both just say what we see. If I feel like I need to have a pop, I will. If it’s him, fine.”


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There were glimmers of a barbed edge to Heckingbottom’s personality towards the tail end of last term, claiming he fancied knocking fourth official Gavin Duncan’s teeth out during a draw with Hearts and publicly branding Kilmarnock defender Alex Bruce a ‘f***ing diver’ in a crowded media room.

“We share a flat together - so I’m a bit scared of him in there!” added Stockdale. “No, it’s just high-pressure stuff, isn’t it? I don’t think he has been too spiky compared to other people I see on the touchline. I think it can get blown out of proportion sometimes.”

Of sharing digs with the gaffer, Stockdale acknowledges that it has become something of a hub of activity in the heart of the capital, meaning the work does not end when they leave the training ground.

“We chuck ourselves into work as much as we can,” Stockdale continues. “Our families are still down south so it means that we focus purely on Hibs. We come to work, leave, watch football, then come back to the Training Centre!


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“But that means when we do have a little time to go back home, you can park work because we’ve done it and lived it. Whereas when Paul was at Barnsley and Leeds - similar to me at Sunderland - you would take the work home with you. We can sort of leave it in Edinburgh.”

Hibs return for pre-season training on Thursday, with the captures of Adam Jackson, Joe Newell and, in particular, Scott Allan fuelling a real sense of optimism in Leith. And Stockdale has no desire to quash any lofty expectations.

“We want to be challenging for the European places next season,” he added. “We are not afraid to say that.

“Challenging the top two would be difficult but you’ve got to aim high.”