It was a straight question and it elicited a straight answer. Did he feel he had been treated professionally at Celtic? Scott Allan’s response was “no”.
“Not 100 per cent of the time, no. Definitely not. In football, when you are playing, you are part of the squad. When you aren’t part of that, it is easy to be cast aside and forgotten about. That’s just how it is.”
Up until that moment the Hibs summer signing had restricted himself to some veiled digs and painted a picture of life on the outside looking in. Left in the shadows as Celtic chased their treble treble and wrapped up their eighth league title on the bounce, the attacking midfielder claims he was never given a chance and says there were days when he and the other peripheral players did not even know who or where they were training.
“It was the luck of the draw. You were finding out when you came in that morning, half the time,” he recalled. “Ten minutes before training started, you’d find out who you were training with. There were five or six of us in that situation.”
Some days it was the development squad, on other occasions it was the first team but there was rarely any warning and certainly no predictability.
“There was a period after January where five or six of us would come in and ask: ‘Who are we training with?’ We didn’t know,” added Allan. “Nobody had told us. So we would need to go and find out who we were to join. We talked about it amongst ourselves, just told each other to stay professional and hopefully you’d get a change of scenery soon, get out and get yourself back up and running again.
“You are 27 years old. It should be structured. If they want you to train with one group, you should be told: “Right, you’re training with them. Every day’. You could get that through your head. But it changed day to day. So it became a guessing game. It ended up me and [Cristian] Gamboa just being told: ‘You guys are in the gym’. ‘But there are that many players at Celtic, you know?
“I’m not angry. It just became that I was expecting it. I felt I dealt with it really well, kept my head, didn’t chuck my toys out of the pram. I felt players like Gamboa and Marvin Compper did the same. We could hold our heads high because we were the utmost professionals, regardless of what happened.”
But it was not the experience he expected when he left Hibs for Celtic in 2015. Having failed to get a shot at the first team, there were loan spells at Rotherham United, Dundee and a brief return to Easter Road for the second half of the 2017-2018 season, to keep him ticking over, but he says he was treated unfairly whenever he was back at Celtic with managers Ronny Deila, Brendan Rodgers and finally Neil Lennon all denying him first-team game time.
“I just never got the chance so I never got the answer as to whether I would have done well or not,” he said. “Every other player in that squad got at least two games to show what they could do. I never got that, it was strange to me.
“If I got a run of three or four games, which I never got even in the Ronny Deila era, and you don’t do it then you can hold up your hands and say you did not take your chance but it was never there for me.”
Returning to Hibs gives him an opportunity to reignite a career that has always promised so much, even if it does mean he has a new manager to win over, following the arrival of Paul Heckingbottom after the pre-contract had already been signed.
“I just wanted to come somewhere where I am appreciated by the fans and have a good relationship with the people and the hierarchy and I believed in myself that I could make an impact whatever manager was here,” he said.
“Considering everything that went on [in the past few years], you find out a lot about yourself and it’s made me a better person and player. I know that sounds weird because I haven’t been playing every week but I can take a lot from those experiences moving forward. I feel good now.”