Scott Allan admits the memory of enjoying the happiest days in what has been a nomadic life in football in the green and white of Hibs lay behind his return to Easter Road.
Although still only 26, the midfielder can list 11 clubs – both on a permanent and temporary basis – on a CV covering the length and breadth of the country.
Plucked by Alan Stubbs from West Bromwich Albion, his £300,000 move to the Baggies from Dundee United having turned sour, Allan revelled on his return to Scotland to the extent he picked up the Championship’s player of the year award.
However, itchy feet got the better of him, the summer of 2015 becoming a protracted wrangle between Hibs and Rangers over the player’s future.
Allan fired in a transfer request in a bid to see his dream move to his boyhood heroes realised only for Hibs to stand firm in their determination not to sell to their biggest promotion rivals although three offers which amounted eventually to a mere £250,000 did nothing to tempt them.
In a strange quirk, Allan did get his move, but to Old Firm rivals Celtic, Dylan McGeouch making what had been a loan deal with Hibs a permanent move while Liam Henderson moved east for a season.
Again, though, nothing went to plan as far as Allan was concerned, as he failed to pin down a regular place in the plans of Celtic boss Ronny Deila and his successor Brendan Rodgers, meaning loan spells at Rotherham and, latterly, Dundee.
Allan was pencilled in for a season at Dens Park but, he revealed, the chance to return to Hibs proved too good to resist, the move part of a three-way deal on transfer deadline day involving goalkeeper Scott Bain and striker Simon Murray.
Dundee boss Neil McCann was, he admitted, less than happy at the prospect of losing him but didn’t stand in his way, for which Allan was grateful.
He said: “It was a difficult phone call because you are telling someone you want to leave. I had a good relationship with Neil and respect him but he did me a turn and let me come here and I’m thankful for that.
“The last time I was here was the most enjoyment I’ve had in football so hopefully I can recreate that. I just linked with every player, the fit just felt right. I played with a freedom with those around me here, guys like Dylan McGeouch, who is still here, and that enabled me to do my creative stuff going forward.”
Allan has watched from afar as McGeouch, having finally put the injury problems which blighted his first couple of season with Hibs behind him, and John McGinn, a team-mate for only a matter of days last time round, have flourished and now he’s hoping he can enjoy a resurgence in his own career.
Agreeing with Hibs boss Neil Lennon’s assessment that his career has just been “plodding along” for the past couple of years, he said: “I just want to put some roots down like John and Dylan. They’ve both done it and they’re really settled and it’s something my career really needs just now.
“Dylan struggled with injuries for a while and he is now back to his best and a massive part of the team. Neil has got the best out of midfielders like him and John and that’s a massive reason I wanted to come. Dylan has struck with it, overcome those fitness issues and is thriving under a manager who trusts him – that shows what can happen.”
Hibs, of course, won the Scottish Cup a few months after Allan moved on, but while delighted to see the friends he’d left behind enjoy that historic moment, he admitted he was “a bit envious” not to have been part of it.
“I’m still friends with a lot of people here,” he said. “And Hibs have just got better and better in the time I have been away. I want to be part of that and add to it. Neil knows what I can do going forward and since I’ve been back (from injury) the last three weeks at Dundee I’ve been back on my game again and creating chances. I scored a goal on Tuesday night which felt weird because the next day I was away but Neil knows I can create chances and that’s what I’d like to bring to the team.”
Allan insisted he returns to Hibs a wiser man but still hungry to succeed. Asked what he’d still got to achieve in his career, he said: “I don’t really think about that. I just want to go out on a Saturday and enjoy playing football and entertaining fans.
“I just want to be happy playing good football, that’s the way I see it. I’ve always been hungry to succeed and that will never change because it’s inside you.
“Some things have been unfortunate, others have been my own doing – that’s part of life. The way things have gone for me since I was 18, the way I left Dundee United and the hype around that, have meant I’ve learned to live with frustration.
“I just want more good times in my career. I have gained through experience, the amount of things I have been through and the transfers I’ve been involved in.”
Allan goes straight into Lennon’s squad for today’s Premiership match against Rangers and the Hibs boss has no doubts as to what he will bring to his side.
Lennon said: “He’s got the game, you don’t go to Celtic from another club in Scotland and not have ability. You saw him here, he was really confident and full of real intent in his game and we want to bring that back out of him. It’s up to me to get the best out of him.”