SCOTT ALLAN admits he found it painful to even watch football during his year of hell in the Celtic wilderness.
However, the gifted playmaker insists he has emerged stronger from the ordeal and is ready to make up for lost time at Hibs.
The 27-year-old was forced to write off an entire season last term as he failed to make a single appearance for the Hoops and proved unable to secure a loan move away from the club.
He agreed a pre-contract to return to Easter Road for a third time in January but, despite the Hibees’ best efforts, they were unable to bring him in immediately.
That left Allan in limbo for a further five months.
It was a stark learning curve for Allan, who is more hungry to succeed than ever following a miserable stint in Glasgow’s east end. In total, he played 17 times in four years for Celtic.
He said: “It’s been a tough year and I have found out a lot about myself.
“I’ve had to keep myself ticking over, with everything that has been going on, but it has given me a drive for next season.
“It’s been tough to watch any football, just because of the year I’ve had.
“I heard that Hibs were still interested, and everybody knew I wanted to come back, so as soon as January came around I started speaking to George (Craig, director of football operations) and Leeann (Dempster, chief executive) and it was an easy choice.
“We tried to get it done in January but it wasn’t to be. I’m happy to be back now.
“I feel at home at Hibs and have probably played my best football here. I want to give back to the club because the fans have given me a lot over the years. I’m here for the long haul this time and I think I’m a better player than I was when I left four years ago.”
Allan has revealed that a new-found love of Yoga has helped to keep him physically and mentally strong during his exile from the Celtic first-team, which will come as no surprise to fans who follow him on Instagram.
The former Dundee United, West Brom and Birmingham man has been treating punters to sneak peeks of his grueling sessions in the sweltering heat of Dubai and, a lack of match sharpness notwithstanding, Allan is arguably in the best shape of his career.
He continued: “If you read up on Yoga it talks about prolonging your career and in terms of recovery and things like that, it has worked well for me.
“I’m going to stick with it. It looks a bit flash on Instagram but I’m thoroughly enjoying it. I’ll need to show some tricks off in the dressing room!
“I’ve got a personal trainer, Kevin Kelly, and the girl who helps me do the Yoga. Combining those things can only help my football and I’m much more open-minded about those things that can help me perform on the park. Hopefully that’ll show this season.
“It’s just about getting up and running and getting that match sharpness as quickly as possible. I feel fit but once I get a few games under my belt, I’ll be ready to go. Playing in the League Cup games that come thick and fast should work in my favour.”
Allan was a Neil Lennon signing, with the pre-contract switch being agreed prior to the Northern Irishman leaving Easter Road in February. However, Paul Heckingbottom has left him in no doubt that he will be a pivotal player next season.
Heckingbottom, his assistant Robbie Stockdale and head of recruitment Graeme Mathie all met with Allan at a Glasgow hotel recently to ease fears that the change of management may have altered his position – and outline what was expected from him.
He told Hibs TV: “We have already met and he [Heckingbottom] gave me an in-depth look at how we were looking to play this season and where the manager sees me fitting into the side. He knows what I can bring to the team, so do the fans.
“The presentation and attention to detail was excellent. When you see that, it gives you a lot of impetus going forward. I just can’t wait to get on the park and put that into practice.”