Being rejected by Manchester City made Steven Whittaker's career

Steven Whittaker has revealed how being knocked back by Manchester City sparked his football career into life.

Wednesday, 9th January 2019, 9:30 pm
Stteven Whittaker thought a Man City contract would be tabled by then boss Joe Royle. Picture: Ross Parker/SNS
Stteven Whittaker thought a Man City contract would be tabled by then boss Joe Royle. Picture: Ross Parker/SNS

Left devastated when told at the age of 15 the Citizens didn’t want him, the veteran Hibs player even applied for a job as an electrician and didn’t get that before being offered a deal by Hibs.

Now Whittaker has spent 20 years in the game with three Scottish Premier League titles, two Scottish Cup winners’ medals and four League Cup triumphs - the first of which came with Hibs - not to mention a UEFA League Cup final appearance and 31 Scotland caps.

Reflecting on a career which began in 2000, the 33-year-old said: “At 15 I wasn’t sure how things were going to go. I wanted to become a footballer and thought I’d be signing for Manchester City.

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“I went down to sign with my parents. The scout took us down, with Joe Royle the manager at the time. I played in a match, we won 2-0 and I scored, so it wasn’t like I did anything wrong.

“But the contract just never happened. We came back up the road and got a letter a few days later saying ‘we’re not in a position to offer you a contract.’ Verbally they had done, so that was an early disappointment.

“But I wouldn’t change it for the world because of how it made me and what happened afterwards. That’s football and it’s how you cope with disappointment.

“I was determined from a young age I was going to play football.

“I’ll be honest, though, at that time I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. I was playing for Hibs in the Initiative League on a Sunday after playing for Hutchie Vale on a Saturday, which wouldn’t happen these days.

“But I didn’t know what was going to happen. I was still at school and had chosen all my Highers at the time and went in for about two weeks at the start of the year.

“But I thought to myself: ‘what am I going to do now?’ I even went for a job interview to become an electrician. I can’t remember the firm or much about it, really, but I know I didn’t get the job!

“Then Hibs got in touch and offered me a year’s contract to go in and see how I’d get on. Within three months I’d signed a five-year deal.

“I signed in 2000 and my current contract expires in 2020. I joined Hibs at 16 and by the time my deal runs out I’ll have had a 20 year career. Who knows if I’ll make that 21 or 22?

“I signed for the club straight from school and I think that helped me. A few of the lads my age didn’t come in until they were 17. They stayed on at school another year to finish their exams. It turned out to be a good decision but at the time it was a big decision.”