Paul’s debut came in a Scottish Cup tie in January 2008, which also happened to be Mixu Paatelainen’s first game in charge, with a Deal Shiels hat-trick giving Hibernian a 3-0 victory. Initially featuring as a left back, Paul would hold off competition from the recently signed Abderouff Zarabi. His second match also came in the Scottish Cup where he started against Rangers in a 0-0 draw.
This season would also feature some landmarks for Paul. He got his first taste of European action against Elfsborg in the Intertoto Cup before scoring his first goal for the club, the winner, in an exciting 3-2 victory over Falkirk. Paul would get his first taste of Edinburgh Derby success with a 1-0 win at Tynecastle in May 2009. Before the season started, Paul had the unenviable task of trying to mark Lionel Messi at Murrayfield in a friendly game against Barcelona. Paul would spend a short three game spell in Perth for Derek McInnes’ St Johnstone where he would again feature against Rangers in the Scottish Cup.
Paul would now begin to establish himself as a regular first team started under new manager John Hughes as Hibernian started the season strongly. Paul scored twice, both in cup ties against Brechin City in the League Cup and Irvine Meadow in the Scottish Cup. He was part of the team that would win at Celtic Park that season and involved in an incredible 6-6 draw against Motherwell as Hibernian went on to finish 4th and claim a European place.
After European exit at the hands of NK Maribor, Paul would score on the opening day of the season at Fir Park. John Hughes departure in the early season saw Colin Calderwood take over as Hibernian struggled to a 10th place finish. Paul was sent off for the only time in his Hibernian career away to Inverness and scored in a late equaliser against Dundee United in December.
In another transitional period for Hibernian, Paul proved a consistent performer in an ever changing team. Colin Calderwood departed in early November, with Pat Fenlon being appointed the following month. Paul was partnered with new signing James McPake at the back as the club fought relegation. His crucial goals away to Inverness and at home to Dunfermline, would see Hibernian steer clear of the drop. Despite reaching the Scottish Cup Final, the season ended in disappointment losing at Hampden Park to Hearts.
Hibernian’s early season saw the club topping the league in early November after a win over Dundee United. That game was the first time Paul captained the club, an honour for the boyhood Hibernian fan. He scored against St Johnstone in August in a 2-0 win. The club would reach the Scottish Cup final but could not overcome Neil Lennon’s impressive Celtic side.
The early European defeat by Malmo may have been a sign of things to come, and when Terry Butcher replaced Pat Fenlon, the club rallied initially losing just one of his first 9 games. Paul scored in a 3-0 win over Kilmarnock in December before winning the Edinburgh Derby to see Hibernian sit in the top six in early January. A run of poor form and a play-off defeat to Hamilton Accies would see the club relegated to the Ladbrokes Championship.
Paul formed a partnership with Liam Fontaine as the club pushed for promotion. Big wins over Rangers gave the team optimism that they could go up via the playoff but Rangers would prove the stumbling block, despite finishing in 2nd place, above the Ibrox outfit, Hibernian would lose in the semi-finals to Ally McCoist’s men. Paul scored four times, his best scoring season to date against two teams. He scored against Cowdenbeath and Dumbarton home and away.
In one of the most memorable season for the club, Paul would feature 44 times in a Hibernian jersey, the most of his career. Paul also came up with some key goals, his first was a late winner against Rangers at Easter Road in front of the live Sky Sports camera to inflict a first league defeat against Mark Warburton’s team. He popped up against even later to equalise against Hearts in a remarkable 2-2 draw. Nobody would realise at the time just how important that goal was. He would miss out on the League Cup Final defeat to Ross County through injury. Paul would play in his third Scottish Cup Final, with only Peter Kerr (1914, 1923, 1924) and Lewis Stevenson (2012, 2013, 2016) managing the same feat. Paul would savour winning the Scottish Cup for his team thanks to a 3-2 victory over Rangers and like his teammates, write themselves into Hibernian folklore with legendary status forever more.
Hibernian won promotion back to the Ladbrokes Premiership with Paul making yer another important contribution although injuries prevented him playing as big a part as he had hoped. Paul again showed his nerve in a penalty shootout as he scored against Brondby in the Europa League although Hibernian would go out that night. A crucial late goal against Falkirk in November plus one against Dumbarton in a comfortable victory gave the team points at a difficult part of the season. Paul also returned to the left back role earlier in the season to cover for injuries.
Paul’s leadership and experience shone through on Hibernian’s return to the Ladbrokes Premiership featuring 40 times, 30 as captain. He would chip in with two goals, both winners, against Ross County in the highlands in September and against Partick Thistle at home in March. Paul featured in wins over Hearts, Rangers and Celtic as Hibernian secured a 4th placed finish and qualification for the Europa League Qualifiers.