Livingston attacker Jaze Kabia hoping to following in footsteps of former ace

When Jaze Kabia completed his move from Shelbourne to Livingston a fortnight ago, the 20-year-old had no idea it was a road that had been travelled before.

He also had no idea quite how instant his impact would be with the Lions.

Former Republic of Ireland internationalist Wes Hoolahan made the same move from Shels to West Lothian in 2005 before going on to enjoy an impressive career that includes close to 400 appearances in the top two divisions in England and 43 international caps.

Kabia made his debut for the Lions in last week’s draw with Celtic – and got clipped in the chin by skipper Scott Brown who saw red for the incident. He was then an unused substitute at Hampden as Livi won their Betfred Cup semi-final against St Mirren.

To cap off a memorable few days, the 20-year-old came off the bench to fire the Lions in front in the 89th minute against Kilmarnock on Wednesday night.

Even he can’t quite believe it.

He said: “I’m loving every minute of it. It’s been surreal. I’ve only been here two and a half weeks and already feel I’m developing in leaps and bounds.

“The gaffer has showed faith in me. I’m glad I’ve repaid him with a goal now. That’s just the start, I’ve plenty more hard work to put in.”

Jaze Kabia goes down after an incident with Scott Brown during his debut in last week’s draw with Celtic

As for his debut against the Hoops last week, he commented: “Nothing was taking the smile off my face that night.

“Nine years in a row Celtic have won the title so, playing against the best players in the country, I’m just privileged to have this opportunity.

“My phone was ringing off the hook after that. It was just brilliant to get on and a brilliant result to keep our run going.”

The youngster started off at Cobh Ramblers before earning a move to Shelbourne.

Following success there, he was keen to move on – but it wasn’t until he’d signed for David Martindale’s side that he was aware of the Hoolahan connection.

He commented: “When I signed, Shelbourne fans posted saying Wes did that too. If I can have a career like his, then it won’t be a bad one. I’m delighted to follow his footsteps.

“There was few clubs interested. I had a trial here and went down to Ipswich and I didn’t need to go anywhere else after that.

Former Livingston star Wes Hoolahan

“I knew it was a no-brainer to sign here. When I came on trial, I loved it from the first minute. I’m delighted to be here and hopefully I can get into the team.”

Martindale admits the youngster has done more than enough to warrant first team action despite having suggested they could send him out on loan and when asked if the Irishman’s fast start to life at Livi has given him a selection headache, the gaffer said: “I think the wee man has done enough to stay within the squad to be honest. He’s definitely given me a headache because he’s not the brightest.

“I don’t know what it is. I just sign them. They all seem to come to me, I must be a magnet.

“He’s not the brightest, but he’s a great kid. There’s a lot of coaching to do with him and I’ll need to go through a few Paracetamols too.

“He’s brillant. He’s just so infectious. It’s great to see young lads going onto the park and you can see their face lighten up and their energy just radiates with everyone else.

“For a young boy to be with the team for two weeks and score that goal, I thought was fantastic.

“To be honest when it fell to him I knew he’d hit the target because he can finish and he’s got one of the hardest shots at the club.”

Daily Record – Home