John Collins believes the Old Firm’s rare absence has left all four Scottish Cup semi-finalists with a fantastic chance to finish the season in glorious fashion.
Hibernian face Dundee United at Hampden Park on Saturday with St Johnstone and St Mirren playing each other at the national stadium the following day.
The former Scotland, Celtic and Hibernian midfielder, who managed the Easter Road club to Scottish League Cup final victory in 2006-07, was speaking at Hampden where he was promoting Premier Sports’ live and exclusive coverage of the Dundee United v Hibs match.
He told the PA news agency: “That is a huge incentive. The Old Firm are out so managers, players… you won’t get a better opportunity in your entire career to get a Scottish Cup winners’ medal.
“So for the four managers, the four groups of players, this is a rare opportunity and when you get opportunities like this handed to you have to try and take it, grasp the opportunity, seize the moment.
“As I say, very rarely you see the Old Firm and Aberdeen not in the semi-finals.
“Hibs are not going to win the league, winning cups is their greatest opportunity.
“So someone from each game will be a hero, and I hope one is a Hibs boy. It would be lovely to see them getting to another Scottish Cup final.
“There is no better way to end the season than having a Scottish Cup final to look forward to.
“That is the incentive, to energise the whole club and half of Edinburgh, with no Old Firm as an opponent in the final.
“It is just a shame there will be no fans there but it is a glorious opportunity and you have to go and take it.”
Hibs have not reached a final since they won the Scottish Cup in 2016 and this season they lost a Betfred Cup semi-final to St Johnstone and the delayed 2020 Scottish Cup semi-final to Hearts.
But Collins expects the players to have consigned those disappointments to history.
He said: “As a player you move on.
“Every game is a new challenge, every game is a different opponent.
“Those semi-finals are in the bin, they are gone for players. It is a new moment, a new game.
“The pitch is fabulous, great condition, it is just a shame there won’t be an atmosphere with fans to drive them on but they have to drive each other on.”