Alan Stubbs says leading Hibernian to victory in Sunday’s Scottish League Cup final against Ross County would be the greatest moment of his career.
The 44-year-old won two Scottish League Cups and two Scottish Premiership titles with Celtic as a player.
“After my short time in management, this will be the proudest moment to date,” he told BBC Scotland.
“If we were to win it, I’d say it would probably cap off everything I have achieved. I have been very fortunate.”
Stubbs took over at Easter Road for his first managerial role in June 2014, and led Hibs to the Scottish Championship play-offs and the Scottish Cup semi-finals in his first season.
His second campaign sees them well placed for another tilt at the play-offs, while they also have a Scottish Cup quarter-final replay against Inverness CT after facing County at Hampden Park on Sunday.
“As manager it seems to be more satisfying with victories and what you are trying to achieve,” he said.
“I don’t know what it is, because nothing beats playing. I wish I was still playing, to a certain degree.
“I try not to look back; I was very lucky – I had a decent career. But I am more excited for the players on Sunday. They need to go and grasp it and enjoy it, and I think they will.
“Sunday can’t pass them by – they may not get a chance again. We have to have the mindset that ‘there is no looking back'”
‘Youngsters will thrive on big stage’
During his own career, Stubbs, then 23, led Bolton to a League Cup final – they lost 2-1 to Liverpool – in 1995 before tasting extra-time victory in the First Division play-off final (4-3 against Reading) the same year to lead the club into the Premier League.
He believes in the likes of 19-year-old Liam Henderson, fellow midfielder John McGinn, 21, and 20-year-old striker Jason Cummings, Hibs have young players who will relish the Hampden stage on Sunday.
“We have got a few young players but they don’t fear the expectation,” he noted. “Whenever we have played big games this year, they have risen to the challenge.
“Sometimes that is when the occasion can get the better of young players and they think too much about it, but more often than not they have responded and come up trumps.
“If you look at Jason, John and ‘Hendo’, they play the game with a freedom – they look like kids playing in the street – and that is great to see. They are allowed to express themselves and be themselves on the pitch.
“With the midfielders and strikers, they need to be allowed to do things that they see. I don’t like it to be manufactured, I like it to be off-the-cuff.
“I know they have got the ability, more than I did as a defender. You have to let them express themselves.”
Pre-match pep talk with Dalglish and Moyes
Stubbs played under Kenny Dalglish for a season at Celtic and six years under David Moyes in two different spells at Everton.
He will contact both managers ahead of Sunday’s game for any snippets of advice that may help Hibs in their quest for a first Scottish League Cup win since 2007, and a fourth overall.
“I will speak to Kenny and I will give David a call at some point, probably on Thursday or Friday,” Stubbs added. “They are two opinions I value a lot.
“I have a really good relationship with Kenny, I get on really well with him. It will just be a chat, nothing else.
“If I can pick up something from it which may help towards Sunday, then great. But it is probably more for me than anything.
“I’ll also speak to a friend of mine who’s in business management, not football. It’s a different world, but there are similarities.
“I don’t like my players to see me getting worked up or getting nervous. The older you get, the more you think about it.”