Revealed: How Hibs nearly discarded all-time great LAST season

Stevenson bids farewell to Easter Road crowd.Stevenson bids farewell to Easter Road crowd.
Stevenson bids farewell to Easter Road crowd. | SNS Group
Club delayed contract offer to legend with all-time appearance record

All-time Hibs great Lewis Stevenson has revealed how he almost called time on his Easter Road career LAST summer – because the club waited until the dog days of the season to offer him a new contract. But the defender, the only player in history to win both the Scottish Cup and League Cup hits, admits the lure of trying to hit the 600-appearance target kept him in green-and-white for an extra year.

One of the worst kept secrets in football was confirmed yesterday when Stevenson signed for Raith Rovers, his hometown club. The former Balwearie High School pupil, who could see Stark’s Park from his classroom in Kirkcaldy, agreed terms on a two-year deal with the Championship title contenders.

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Stevenson told Raith TV that he’d gone as far as discussing a move home with Rovers technical director John Potter last year. The fullback was out of contract at the end of last season, meaning he was free to talk to other clubs from January onwards – and Hibs were making no great show of wanting to retain the veteran.

The 36-year-old, who eventually signed a one-year deal and hit the unprecedented 600-game mark in the penultimate game of the season, was allowed to leave when his contract expired at the end of the campaign. Happy to be extending his career with a side who went all the way to the Premiership play-off final, he revealed just how close he’d come to joining Raith last summer.

“I don’t think I got the contract offer until the middle of May,” he revealed, adding: “So John Potter spoke to me a few times – and it was my next option.

“So, aye, I was very close to coming until Hibs came in with an offer pretty late on. I had a target of hitting 600 games. And I managed to do that last season.

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“I think I was close to it a few times over the years, especially last season. That was probably the closest I got to coming.

“It was obviously an honour to be at Hibs for so long. But I feel ready to move on, ready to kick on in the last part of my career.”

Setting his sights on promotion next season, Stevenson said: “I honestly think that everyone in that league next season will have at least a chance of play-offs. It’s going to be tight from top to bottom. If we can keep the momentum from last season, I’m sure we’ll be successful.

“I still feel I’ve got a lot to give. I’ll get my head down and work hard, like I’ve done throughout my career.”