Hibs: Why re-signing Celtic star Leigh Griffiths would be a no-brainer for club and player
Hibs were heading for more Hampden Park heartache. Trailing 3-0 at half-time against Falkirk in the Scottish Cup semi-final.
Pat Fenlon was in need of a hero, Hibs fan simply wanted a saviour. Step forward Leigh Griffiths.
Okay, he missed a penalty he helped win, but the striker swept in the second goal, produced a lovely chested assist for Eiin Doyle to score the third. Then the coup de grace, the moment those steely Hibs fans who stayed on despite the 3-0 deficit perhaps deserved.
In extra-time, the game heading towards penalties, Griffiths sent a heat-seeking missile past Michael McGovern and into the top bin.
A performance which was simply a microcosm of that season for the player. His leagues goal – 23 of them – for a team who finished seventh were worth 21 points.
It bordered on the norm.
Eight years on, plus 122 goals and a glut of medals bagged, from leaving his boyhood clubs to join Celtic, Griffiths is being linked with a return to Easter Road. It has been reported he could leave Parkhead this summer with the disposed champions having an option to extend his deal by a year.
Goals, goals, goals
Encouragingly, manager Jack Ross, rather than rule it out or put a dampener on speculation, is open-minded about a possible summer switch.
There may be the concern regarding the 30-year-old Hibs would be getting. Across the past three campaigns he has completed 90 minutes on just eight occasions, while this season he has started only nine times despite Celtic's struggles.
Griffiths has had his off-field struggles which resulted in being given time off and away from football under Brendan Rodgers. Since coming back into the fold, he has had his fitness questioned. The player, quite rightly, notes he needs a run of games to get that football fitness back.
Yet, of all players to have played 500 minutes or more in the league, only Kemar Roofe and Odsonne Edouard have a better goals per 90 minute ratio. In the previous five seasons, he’s finished in the top five four times.
When Griffiths plays, he scores.
It is no wonder Hibs fans, rightly so, are excited about the prospect of the prodigal son returning to Leith.
Breathe new life
Yet, more than his goals, his match-winning talents, his thunderous but accurate left foot which is akin to every club in the golf bag, it's a place he belongs.
From time to time you get players at clubs where it just seems they were born to play for that club. Griffiths is one of those.
A talismanic forward who grows bigger and stronger, moves quicker when wearing the Hibs top. A special player for fans, someone they can relate to, someone who is won of theirs.
And perhaps that is exactly what Griffiths needs. To be back home at a club where he will be cherished, given the time and freedom on the pitch, from the start, the focus on him less severe and tiresome as it is at Celtic. A chance to breathe life into his career once more. A chance to breathe full stop.
You can analyse how he would fit in and where. But if the opportunity presents itself, a Hibs fan who scores goals and loves the club. A no brainer.