HIBERNIAN vice-captain David Gray is targeting a "dream" return to Hampden 12 years after his last appearance at the national stadium as a fresh-faced schoolboy.

Gray starred in a 1-1 Victory Shield stalemate against England in 2003 as the baby-faced Scots, who also counted Hibs stalwart Lewis Stevenson among their numbers that day, faced a Three Lions side which included current Arsenal ace Theo Walcott.

He has since seen Manchester United lift the European Cup in Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium, witnessed Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi do battle at the Olimpico in Rome and been to the Millennium Stadium and Wembley. However, Hampden Park remains Gray's field of dreams - and he is desperate to see off Berwick Rangers tomorrow afternoon and book another trip to Mount Florida.

The 26-year-old said: "I was only 15 when we played against England at Hampden so it's been a long time for me to wait to get back to there. Even at the time, I never took it for granted or thought I would play there loads of times. I took it all in and really appreciated the chance to walk out at the national stadium.

"My biggest ambition in life has always been to play for the national team, so to get the chance to pull the Scotland shirt and play at Hampden, even at youth level, is a dream come true. To get back there as a player would be something else."

The chance to perform on the Hampden stage would be particularly cathartic for Gray, who was confined to the substitutes' bench at Wembley when his Burton Albion side reached the League Two play-off final last term. Despite playing a key role in the second half of the league campaign he did not feature in the encounter with Fleetwood, which Albion ultimately lost 1-0.

The former Old Trafford kid said: "To think you're actually standing on the Wembley pitch is a pretty amazing feeling. I was disappointed not to start, but it was great to be there and be part of it. The whole Wembley experience was fantastic and I soaked it all in.

"I went to two Champions League finals, in Rome and Moscow, with Manchester United - the club provided tickets for everyone involved with the club. To see Messi and Ronaldo, two of the greatest players ever to kick a ball, on the same pitch in Rome is something you never forget.

"I went to a couple of FA Cup finals as well at the Millennium Stadium and, although I wasn't named in the squad on the day, these are occasions which inspire you to make the most out of your career and try to experience games like that."

Gray admits he has allowed himself to imagine the prospect of reaching another showpiece - and enjoying more than just a watching brief this time. Gray added: "I feel fortunate to have the opportunity we have now and really excited by it. Why can't we do it? We don't have any pressure on us. We're not expected to win it.

"Certainly no-one here is thinking we can't win the Scottish Cup because Hibs 'just don't win the Scottish Cup'. The lads here are just seeing it as a great chance to get to Hampden."