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FOOTBALL: NO MORE DOUMB AND GLOOM NOW; PARTICK THISTLE v HIBERNIAN - 16 months on and Matt so glad he joined Hibs.


MATTHIAS DOUMBE had to see off two managers and wait 16 months on the sidelines before finally getting the chance to shine for Hibs.

But now he's a first-team regular, he says joining the Easter Road outfit was the best move he's ever made.

Back in October 2001, the 23 year-old stopper was plucked by then Hibs boss Alex McLeish from Paris St Germain reserves but he faced a tortuous wait on the sidelines as he adapted to SPL football.

Finally, after McLeish had moved to Ibrox and Bobby Williamson had succeeded Franck Sauzee, Doumbe got his break.

This season he has played every match for the Leith outfit and Hibs even snubbed a predeadline move by Dundee United to keep him in Edinburgh.

Now, after claiming his first Hibs goal against Celtic last weekend, he is relishing every match in green and white.

The defender, who is looking to continue his good form against Partick Thistle at Firhill today, said: ``It took me until February 2002 to make my debut but now I think the move has been really good for me.

``Before I was not sure because I did not play a lot of games but now I have learned so much.

``When I was not playing, I could have closed myself off from the group and become really angry with everyone but I think I handled it pretty well.

``I still enjoyed my time. I never thought about returning to France, I was too determined to do that.''

Doumbe admits he was flattered when United moved to sign him after failing in a bid for Marvin Andrews.

However, he is glad he remained in Leith.

He said: ``It is really nice when you know someone else wants you but I was too focused on the season with Hibs to move elsewhere.''

Williamson has no injury worries but he knows Thistle will be eager to get their first points on the board.

He said: ``Every game in the SPL is tough. Firhill is always a difficult place to get a result, as Celtic found at the start of the season and I expect no different today.''

Partick manager Gerry Collins insists self-belief in the dressing room is not diminishing as the club continue their search for that elusive first victory of the season.

The Firhill side are the only SPL side still to register a victory after seven league games but Collins said: ``Every single week when we head into a game we think we are going to win it and the Hibs game is no different.

``We have been working hard all week and the spirit is still very good.''

Collins knows Partick's supporters are frustrated by their poor start but he believes the Firhill faithful will stick by the team until the new players gel. He added: ``Fans pay good money to watch the games and they have a right to be disappointed but no one is more disappointed than me.

``When you look at the goals we have conceded, there has been an element of self-infliction involved in every one.

``No team has cut us wide open and every goal has been avoidable.

``The players and fans know we brought in 14 new players and we have been trying to find the right blend we know now what the best team is.''


HIBEE HERO: Doumbe; scores opener against Celtic
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Oct 4, 2003
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