Mark Milligan has faced the media for the first time as a Hibernian player, preparing himself to fulfil a long-held “burning ambition” to play football in Europe.
Milligan signed for the Edinburgh club on a two-year contract after the World Cup, in which he shone as part of Bert van Marwijk’s central-defensive pairing.
He was soon left without a club after Saudi side Al-Ahli released him following a managerial change in Jeddah.
That finally afforded Milligan, 32, the opportunity to explore options in Europe, a prospect that, while never materialising, is not unfamiliar to the stopper.
Both Crystal Palace and Bolton Wanderers notably had interest in Milligan this decade, though no moves ever eventuated to those sides.
In the first instance, Melbourne Victory held firm on an offer from Palace, while a technicality based on the Socceroos’ world ranking prevented Milligan heading to Lancashire last year.
Even this time, it took some time for Milligan’s visa to be cleared after agreeing to join Hibs.
But now that it is all sorted, he is eager to get going at Easter Road.
“My whole career … I had a chance when I was younger, my visa was denied and then I went along the Asian route, which for an Australia player is logistically a little bit easier,” Milligan told a press conference.
“I always had that burning ambition to get across (to Europe).
“I think the World Cup for me was my body telling me that I still had quite a bit to give.”
For Milligan, Hibs is the perfect fit.
He admits new club and current Socceroos teammate Jamie Maclaren, who has found his way back to the club on loan from Darmstadt, helped sell the move.
“After the World Cup, I really wanted to take my time and make sure I made a good decision, not just for myself football-wise but for my family,” Milligan added.
“I did a lot of research. I was fortunate enough to be contacted by Hibs quite early after the World Cup, so I was able to look into it.
“I was able to speak to people that had been, had lived in Edinburgh, I was able to speak to Jamie quite a bit.
“I was able to speak to Jamie quite a bit and the whole time, hearing very very positive things, I was able to see some games.
“For me, it felt like a good fit football-wise. To work under Neil Lennon is very very exciting for me, (and) to work with some of the players here is very exciting.
“I thought it was a place where I could come and learn, which is very important for me.
“I didn’t want to go somewhere just for the sake of going somewhere; If I’m going to continue playing my football and play at the highest level, I want to continue to learn.”
Hibs’ next match is a home fixture against Kilmarnock on Saturday afternoon, midnight Australian eastern time.