BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
Hibernian midfielder Kevin Thomson has revealed he considered retiring after making the decision to leave Dundee earlier this month. Instead, he could end the season by realising a boyhood dream.
The 31-year-old departed Tayside after 18 months, having become disillusioned by his own inability to string a run of games together and the increased toll that travelling was taking on his body.
Dee boss Paul Hartley spoke of his “shock” at Thomson’s decision, given the former Rangers and Scotland play-maker was his club captain and had managed to accrue 12 appearances this term.
Thomson, whose career has been blighted by injury after suffering four broken legs and damaged cruciate ligaments on two occasions, is adamant he did not already have a move to Hibs lined up.
Indeed, he expected, at best, a few sleepy Saturday afternoon’s in the house and, at worst, the end of his career as a player.
“It just so happened to finish quickly at Dundee and happen quickly here,” he said. “I thought I might have sat in the house for a few months – and I thought about retiring.
“I just got frustrated in myself. That situation of being the club captain and being at the top of the food chain, I felt I wasn’t always fit and available and that was becoming frustrating.
“The travelling – an hour and a half to training and the same home – certainly wasn’t helping my OAP body! [Retirement] was something I thought about.
“I spoke to Scotty [Brown] and people who were close to me in my career for advice – his advice was ‘you’re bloody mad’, which I would expect from him. I spoke to my dad and he said the same, but I was made to think that’s what it would be for me, but this opportunity came along and I am delighted.
“I’m certainly not here to make up the numbers, but I think the way the manager is going to use me is the perfect thing for this time in my career and the problems I’ve had.
“Although it might be a cliche, this feels like home.”
Despite being so close to hanging up his boots, there is now a sense of unfinished business about Thomson’s return.
In two previous spells at Easter Road he made 128 appearances, however the closest he came to lifting a trophy with his boyhood heroes came when he helped them to the CIS Insurance Cup final of 2007.
However, Thomson joined Rangers before Hibs’ semi-final win over St Johnstone so missed the showpiece at Hampden, which the Leithers won 5-1 against Kilmarnock. That remains the last major honour won by the club.
The irony of potentially making his third debut in a League Cup semi-final is not lost on him.
“I told the gaffer when I was trying to get back here that the year I left we won the cup after we had beaten St Johnstone, at Tynecastle, in the semi,” smiled Thomson, who has declared himself fit for this weekend’s clash with the Perth Saints.
“I told him he needed to get me back here – it’s fate! It would be a dream to win it. It would be a fairytale but I don’t know; is football made of fairytales?
“I’m a believer that you make your own luck and you get back what you put in and for me, but it would be a boyhood dream to potentially lift a cup for Hibs. For as long as I am playing, I will always have that dream.”
Thomson’s role at Hibs will also see him take his first steps into coaching at a professional club, having already aided his friends at local amateur outfits Haddington Athletic and Tranent Juniors.
He will work with Hibs’ head of youth development Eddie May, primarily with the under-17 and under-15 squads, and having, by his own admission, seen his playing career hamstrung by fitness woes, Thomson is determined to make the most of his potential as a coach.
“I’m quite excited, I feel like an apprentice again, like I need to clean someone’s boots,” he added. “I quite like the challenge of trying to make people better.
“I have kind of been like that as a player, even when I was a kid here and I was captain people always asked me for advice, even when I was only young.
“I must either look like someone who wants to give advice – or I have too much time on my hands! It’s something I have always been quite humbled by and hopefully that will be a good art to take into management.
“How far can I go in management or as a coach? I don’t know. It’s the same as when I was a player. It’s something I will definitely grab with two hands and if I can go as far as possible then great.”