HIBERNIAN great Pat Stanton insists his famous surname can again cause a stir at Easter Road after watching namesake Sam turn in an exciting full debut against Celtic, while the youngster has also been singled out for praise by manager Terry Butcher.
Four decades on from the days when he spearheaded the treasured Turnbull’s Tornadoes, Stanton senior admitted he had taken a special interest in the development of young Sam Stanton, even though the pair are not related.
After 15 substitute appearances so far this season, Sam – who made his debut aged just 17 two years ago – was named in the starting XI for the first time by manager Terry Butcher for Sunday’s visit of the champions and turned in a stand-out display in the 4-0 defeat.
One second-half shot brought out a stunning save from Celtic goalkeeper Fraser Forster,
denying the 19-year-old a goal to mark a performance of poise and potential. And Pat believes his young namesake can look forward to a bright future at the club whose supporters still revere the Stanton name so closely linked with the halcyon days of the 1970s.
Pat said: “I thought he did very well. To have made his first start for the Hibs against the champions, he can be very pleased with how he played.
“He showed he can handle playing from the start and what will do his confidence no end of good is that the manager has shown that faith in him, which is a big thing for a young player.
“He just needs to keep it going and make sure he listens to people’s advice and, if he does, I think he can have a bright future in the game.
“As he adjusts to the pace of the game and gets stronger he can get better. I’ve spoken to him a few times, when I’ve seen him at the stadium and at the training
centre. He’s a level-headed laddie, a nice type of kid, and he’s got every chance to make it.
“If he listens to what Maurice Malpas and the manager tell him, and uses his own ability, then he can only improve.
“I’d like to say I don’t look out for him more than the others, because you want all the kids that come into the team to do well and hold their own.
“But you can’t help notice the name and that makes it a wee bit more interesting from my point of view.”
Pat thought that Stanton junior had capped his first start with what would have been a superb first goal for the club and a crucial equaliser against Celtic.
Arrowing a left-footed drive towards the top corner of the net, Sam was left with his head in his hands after watching Forster claw the ball away for a corner.
Ten minutes later, Celtic doubled their slender one-goal advantage with a magnificent Virgil van Dijk free-kick and added further late goals from Teemu Pukki and Kris Commons, the latter’s second of the game.
Pat added: “I thought young Sam’s shot was in the net. It was a fantastic save and the goalie didn’t make just one, he had two or three like that in the game – outstanding saves.
“But there were some encouraging signs from Hibs and they didn’t deserve to be beaten 4-0. Hopefully they can keep improving and hopefully there are better times ahead.”
Butcher also hailed the impact of Stanton on his first start for the club in what was a real test of character for the teenager.
Butcher said: “Sam Stanton was different class in behind. You look for so many positives from the game and Sam Stanton was probably the top one.
“The way he played the game and the energy that he showed was sensational.”