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'I put my finger in a hole in my head and remember the blood pouring down over my face'

J orge Claros cups his hands in prayer and looks skyward.

Jorge Claros displays one of the bullet wounds sustained as he drove his wife and a friend away from armed robbers.
Jorge Claros displays one of the bullet wounds sustained as he drove his wife and a friend away from armed robbers.

He is talking about surviving a car-jacking in his native Honduras last year; about driving to hospital after sustaining two bullet wounds and being told by doctors he was lucky to be alive. Hibernian supporters have waited a lifetime for a Scottish Cup win and the chance to claim it against Hearts has created a kind of mania in Edinburgh. Here is one man, at least, who will not find it difficult to maintain some perspective.

The 26-year-old was driving with wife Elsa and a friend in the Honduran town of San Pedro Sula last June when his car was approached by a pair of thieves at a petrol station. As he sped away from the gunmen, Claros was hit twice, one bullet grazing his head and another striking his left shoulder.

Eleven months later, talk of the relegation 'battle' just ended and 'showdowns' with his club's city rivals must seem absurd.

"I am lucky to be alive, let alone play in a cup final," said the on-loan Motagua midfielder, speaking at Hibs' Dublin training base. "I was sitting at a petrol station with my wife and her friend when two men jumped out at me and 'boom-boom' they shot me and tried to steal my car. I just kept thinking, 'don't panic, just relax'. But I remember thinking, 'oh my God, what is my mother going to say?'

"As you can see, I was shot in the back and also on my head and I still have the bullet wounds. Immediately after it happened I put my finger in a hole in my head and remember the blood pouring down over my face. I was totally covered in blood, but I still managed to drive myself to the hospital to get treatment.

"God came through for me that day. I believe he took care of me when I was shot. It could easily have ended up a different story for me, but God is on my side and I think that he will ensure that there is a happy ending for me and also for Hibs this weekend. Who knows? Maybe it is written in the stars that Hibs can win the Scottish Cup after all those years. After all I have been through recently, that would be fantastic."

Claros arrived in Scotland for a trial with Rangers in January, but the financial crisis at that club was about to break and it appeared that bad timing would send him home. Just as he was about to return to Honduras, the player who carries the nickname 'Pitbull' was picked up by Hibs.

Two months ago, he became a father to Johan, a son named after Johan Cruyff, but he is yet to see his boy as Elsa has remained in Honduras. "Johan is nearly three months old and I am looking forward to meeting him for the first time," added Claros. "I got man of the match against St Mirren back in March and then afterwards I saw my baby boy for the first time using Skype on the Internet. I am going back to Honduras in July to meet him. I hope to take a Scottish Cup winners' medal back to put around Johan's neck and perhaps even to score him a special cup final goal against Hearts. My boy would be a champion.

"It has been a very good year," he added. "I have been in Scotland for only five months and now I have the chance to win the Scottish Cup with Hibs. They have not won the cup for 110 years and yet I could win it within five months of coming to Easter Road. It's amazing, it would be the stuff of dreams. In Honduras, I played in five cup finals with Motagua and there are usually 15,000 fans there. It's big, but it's not as big as in Scotland. We need to concentrate for 90 minutes and if we play like we did against Dunfermline recently we can win. It looks like being a fantastic final and I can't wait until Saturday."

His team-mates have been urged to break this Hibs curse by every supporter they meet, but only Claros has the endorsement of Emilio Izaguirre, a colleague for club and country back home. "He phoned me after he had just picked up the Scottish Premier League trophy," said Claros. "He said to me, 'you are my brother and now it is your turn to be champion '. He is a great man and a great player. He has played for Honduras and he is a champion with Motagua many times, but now he says it is my time. He believes in me, he believes in Hibs and I think we can do it, too."

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