Darren McGregor admitted he is ready for the “next chapter” as he resigned himself to the likelihood that his time as a Hibernian player is over.
The 36-year-old became a Hibees favourite in 2016 when he won the Scottish Cup at the end of his first season with the club he supported as a boy.
However, after seven seasons at Easter Road, the no-nonsense centre-back acknowledges he has fallen down the pecking order and is preparing to speak with the club’s hierarchy about the possibility of taking on a coaching role.
“I have a year left but I’m not naive, I am 37 in August,” he said. “I’m still a young man in normal terms but it is getting harder.
“I don’t want to block the pathway for younger guys coming up. I will need to have a conversation with the powers that be whether I can transition into something else.
“I worked so hard to get here and if I wasn’t playing for Hibs I would struggle to see myself playing for anyone else.
“If there was an opportunity to transition here into coaching I would love to look into that. I have been here a long time and loved every minute of it and I would do anything for this club.
“Whatever capacity they see me in then I would be keen to take it. I started at nearly 25 (in full-time football) when I signed for St Mirren.
“I’m 37 in August, I’ve had some bad injuries, plenty of highs and lows. If someone said to me when I had a proper job at 24 that I would still be playing now after winning the Scottish Cup with Hibs at 30 I would not have believed them.
“Whatever step I do take, whatever I apply myself at I know I can be good at. It could be a good next chapter for me.”
Although he still feels capable of playing at a decent level, McGregor admits he would find it difficult to drop down the ladder at this stage of his career.
“You could never rule anything out,” he said. “But from where I’ve been, I’ve done it the opposite to what a lot of guys do in that I’ve started low and ended up high.
“I said when I was younger that I’d play anywhere but because I’ve been here that long, and battled against injuries and chronic knee conditions and what not, it would be difficult for me to go and give someone else 100 per cent of myself knowing that it’s not Hibs and that fire in my belly is sort of dampened.
“If I was playing with someone else, I’d find that very difficult.”
McGregor was given the captaincy by caretaker boss David Gray for Sunday’s 4-0 win over St Johnstone as he made his first start since December in what is likely to be his last appearance for the club.
“It was emotional even thinking about it on Saturday night,” he said. “Dave had spoken to me and said he was going to give me the captaincy which I’ll be forever grateful for.
“Leading my kids out there with the armband, I was almost on the verge of tears. I had to control myself as it was so overwhelming. It’s just been a privilege to play with this club.
“If that is my last game, I will treasure it along with a couple of other things that I managed to achieve here.”