When Ryan Gauld returned to Scotland for a loan spell at Hibs last January there was plenty of excitement.
The player, talked up as the ‘Scottish Messi’ following a dazzling rise to prominence at Dundee United, arrived from Portuguese giants Sporting and was sporting hair tied up in a knot, which only fed into the buzz.
Then Hibs boss Neil Lennon said of the loan deal until the end of the season: “Ryan may see the runs that others don’t. I’m really excited to see what he can bring to the team.”
That excitement fizzled as reality didn’t tally with fantasy. Gauld, who United sold for around £3million, managed just six appearances.
Speaking to The Courier about his career to date, the 24-year-old rues a hamstring injury which thwarted him making the impact he and many others hoped he would.
He said: “It was a shame that an injury killed any momentum I could have got when I was at Hibs on loan.
“It didn’t allow me the chance to get going and do what I was hoping to do, which was get a run of games and do what I’ve done this season in Portugal.”
The period at Hibs was not the best moment in his career, but he is playing some of his best football of his career this season with second tier side Farense.
Prior to the shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, Gauld was a key player in the side’s promotion push, helping them to second place having netted seven in seven in the league, including his first hat-trick.
With his contract not up until next year, he is not eyeing a swift return to Scotland, while any move to England would be examined thoroughly.
“I’m not saying I wouldn’t like to try something new but I played all my youth football in Scotland, then with the first team in the top league at Dundee United,” he said.
“And I went to Hibs, which didn’t really work out. It wouldn’t be my top choice to go back again but you can never rule it out. And United are my team in Scotland, so I could never say never to going back there some day.
“If an opportunity came up to play in England and it was the right club and manager, I would certainly consider that. It would need to be the right style of football for me, though.”