Hibs' relegation 'made club a lot better', Lewis Stevenson says

Hibernian defenders Paul Hanlon and Lewis Stevenson
Paul Hanlon and Lewis Stevenson have launched their own football foundation

Hibernian left-back Lewis Stevenson says relegation to the Scottish Championship five years ago has helped the club become stronger.

The Easter Road side lost in a penalty shootout against Hamilton Academical back in the summer of 2014.

Since gaining promotion in 2017, Hibs have enjoyed two top-six finishes.

"Relegation seemed to bolster the club in a whole way. It was obviously a long way to go down, but it's made the club a lot better," Stevenson said.

"It seemed that we were going through the motions of mid-table finishes and we did have some decent cup success in between that, but it just feels like a totally different club than it was six or seven years ago.

Paul Heckingbottom took over as head coach at Easter Road in February, but the 41-year-old has already been linked with a move to Hull City.

The English Championship club are the latest to be mentioned in connection with the former Leeds United boss, but Stevenson is not concerned.

"Its the same as a player," he said. "If he does well then he will be linked with other clubs, so if the manager does well for us then it's no surprise he is being linked.

"It's just a job he has started and it's something he wants to work on for longer."

With Hibs having just missing out on European football this season, Stevenson, who has launched a foundation to help give youngsters a chance in the game along with team-mate and fellow defender Paul Hanlon, says the focus for next season now falls on Europa League qualification.

"If we get the kind of run we got at the tail end of last season then we are in for a good shout," Stevenson said.

"There is not much separating the teams and anyone can beat anyone. We need to get off to a decent run and I'm sure there will be players coming in and some going out and we need to get a good start in the league cup."

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