Of the 32 goals Christian Nade has scored since first arriving in Scotland almost a decade ago, five have come against Hibs.
Remarkably, the Frenchman has netted in three of the last four matches he has started against the Easter Road side – twice for Raith Rovers in the 2014/15 season, and once for Dumbarton last term. All of those strikes played a part in denying Hibs victories in their previous bids to win promotion from the Championship.
The former Hearts striker makes no secret of the fact he loves doing the damage against the Leith team after being the subject of unflattering songs and jibes about his weight from their supporters ever since his time at Tynecastle when, by his own admission, he wasn’t in great shape. Nade’s lifestyle has changed significantly for the better in recent years, however, and the 32-year-old claims to be in the best condition of his life as he bids to prolong his football career for as long as he can.
In light of his past exploits against Hibs, it comes as little surprise that he is relishing the prospect of lining up for Dumbarton – whom he rejoined earlier this month – at home to Neil Lennon’s Championship leaders this afternoon.
“I look forward to every game but obviously I have great history with Hibs,” he told the Evening News.
“I feel the same playing against Hibs as I do playing against any other side but their fans seem to give me that extra boost sometimes. The criticism I get from them doesn’t hurt me. I laugh about it – it’s funny. The only way I can answer them is to score against them, so when I don’t score, I don’t feel good because it’s like they have beaten me. I have to score against them. It’s always good if I can also make the Hearts fans happy by scoring against them.”
Nade is hoping to pick up where he left off at Dumbarton during a successful spell early last year. The striker scored seven goals in just 14 appearances in the closing three months of last season and was touted for a move back into the full-time ranks. Nothing came to fruition, however, and he ended up signing for Stranraer in July in an ill-fated move which was terminated in November after the Frenchman suffered a breakdown in relationship with manager Brian Reid.
He kept himself ticking over with a couple of outings as a trialist for Annan Athletic in League Two, but is thrilled to be back at Dumbarton, working under Stevie Aitken, who has just been named the Championship’s manager of the month for December, during which they defeated Queen of the South, Falkirk and Dundee United in the league.
“Good question,” he laughs, ruefully, when asked why he didn’t stick around at Dumbarton last summer. “At that point, clubs were asking about me and my agent told me to take my time as it looked like there might be some good opportunities. I never said ‘no’ to Dumbarton, but they couldn’t wait too long for me to make a decision. They wanted to keep me on, but they needed to get players in and, in the end, I signed for Stranraer.
“I had a great time at Dumbarton last season and I wanted to feel that way again. I wanted to feel wanted, which I knew would be the case here. I want to enjoy my football again. It’s the same staff and coaches as when I was here before, and the boys are amazing. I hope to improve the team and help them do better than they did last season.”
Hibs have lost on two of their last three visits to Dumbarton and had to work hard to grind out a 1-0 win there back in August. Nade, who made his second debut for the club as a second-half sub in last weekend’s 2-1 defeat at Morton, insists his team are well equipped to ensure another difficult afternoon on the banks of the Clyde for the league leaders.
“Every game is a hard game, but we showed against Dundee United a couple of weeks ago what we are capable of,” he said. “At home, we are very strong. We will be a dangerous opponent for Hibs.”
Nade has played for six different Scottish teams over the past ten years – Hearts, Dundee, Raith Rovers, Hamilton Accies, Dumbarton and Stranraer. In addition, he had a spell signed to East Fife, where he didn’t play a game, and the aforementioned trial stint at Annan. This means he has experienced life at 20 per cent of Scotland’s senior teams – a scenario which no-one could have envisaged when he arrived at Hearts from Sheffield United as a burgeoning 23-year-old on transfer-deadline day of August 2007.
The Paris-born forward now considers himself part of the furniture here. “I love being in Scotland, I have been here a long time,” he said. “I don’t know the future, but I want to stay here a long time.”
n Russell McLean, the 18-year-old development team striker, has severed ties with Hearts and signed for Lowland League side East Kilbride.