Lee Johnson is intent on honouring the memory of late owner Ron Gordon by leading Hibernian to silverware.
The Easter Road club are mourning the loss of the US-based businessman who died from cancer last week at the age of 68.
Johnson, facing the media on Friday for the first time since his trusty chairman’s passing, explained how he is determined to ensure the tragedy has a galvanising effect on Hibs going forward.
“It’s been a shock for most, myself included,” said the manager. “Even though I knew the severity of the situation, I was still shocked because I saw Ron just a few days earlier in great spirits, and I think that sums him up, that charisma, that fight to carry on.
“It’s been a tough spell, we’re all grieving, there’s no doubt about that. He was our owner, our leader, and for me on a personal level he was fantastic.
“Who motivates the motivator? It was Ron. In bad spells, it’s important you have honest, robust conversations but it’s also important you feel the support and care.
“That was really strong between myself and Ron and his family. Naturally our thoughts move straight towards the Gordon family and anybody who was in Ron’s life a long time. At the same time, I feel an added power to continue that legacy that Ron wanted to put trophies in the cabinet.”
Johnson felt Gordon’s “enthusiasm” helped make him a force for good both at Hibs and within the wider Scottish football environment, where he became a prominent figure in recent seasons.
“There is a saying in football that as a manager it’s not just about picking a club, it’s about picking an owner,” said the Easter Road boss. “It was really important early in the interview process that I felt a connection with the owner and the family, and I really did feel that.
“His work was always honest and pure. The work he’s done in terms of the TV deals, trying to drive and strive for more for the Scottish game, has been key.
“People feed off that kind of enthusiasm. He was a successful businessman built on intelligence and knowledge but also on charisma and character.
“On and off the pitch, I genuinely believe that we’re moving in the right direction. That’s my frustration, that Ron hasn’t got to see enough of his efforts bear fruit.
“Our fans have been absolutely top notch from day one and this is another big landmark on our journey that gives us even more of a cause, more of a spirit and more of a story to fight and be unified.”
Long-serving Hibs defender Paul Hanlon praised Gordon’s people skills.
“He was so approachable,” said the centre-back. “Any time he was in the country, he’d be here at the training ground or around on matchdays.
“You’d see him. It wasn’t a case of him being hidden away up in boardrooms and nobody saw him or spoke to him. He was always around the players, having a laugh, showing his face and showing his support.
“He was the first to tell you if you were doing well and that’s nice to hear from an owner. You see him as a businessman who owns the football club but he was a real people person who was desperate for everyone to do well. He’ll be sorely missed.”