John Collins, 46, signs for Gala Fairydean Rovers

FORMER Hibernian, Celtic and Scotland midfielder John Collins has signed for his home town club in Galashiels at the ripe old age of 46.

Lowland League side Gala Fairydean Rovers wanted to play the 58 times-capped international in their East of Scotland Qualifying Cup tie against Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale on Tuesday evening. But they were unable to get the required international clearance from the English FA in time for kick-off. Collins’ final club when he retired was Fulham and he also had spells with Everton and Monaco.

However, clearance was given yesterday and his registration has been approved by the SFA. Celebebrating the coup, Gala manager Steven Noble said: “John is already the club’s ambassador of football and we have had a string of injuries recently. He agreed to help us out on the night but despite the best of efforts we could not get the clearance through on time.

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“He is a busy man but he remains a Gala-signed player and it would be brilliant if he could help us out later in the season if the need arises. I know he could still do a great job for us.”

Collins, now a regular television pundit, played a few games for Gala Rovers when they were an amateur side as a teenager but never played for a competitive match for the town’s senior club at the time, Gala Fairydean, as he was quickly signed up by Hibs. He did, however, make the occasional guest appearance in friendlies and testimonials.

He went on to have a glorious career at club and international level and famously scored Scotland’s first goal of the 1998 World Cup finals in Paris against Brazil.