Jason Cummings, one of Scottish football’s hottest properties, has been urged to stay at Hibernian by a flamboyant goalscorer from an earlier era who admits he left Easter Road too young.
With the transfer window closing this week, Garry O’Connor said he hoped Cummings, 21, would stay at Hibs where he could continue to develop under Neil Lennon and admitted he wished he had remained at the club longer to enable him to “grow up”.
Cummings, right, attracted considerable interest from England last season and has already been the subject of a £1.2 million bid this term, Hibs turning down the offer from League One’s Peterborough United.
“If I was him I would stay,” said O’Connor, who was 22 when he moved from Hibs to Lokomotiv Moscow in a £1.6m deal in 2006. “He’s not the finished article, not by a long way, and he has to understand that. I wasn’t when I left.
“He’s still quite raw, but he’s a good goalscorer who’s learned under Alan Stubbs and he’ll continue to get better under Neil Lennon, who I’m confident will get Hibs promotion back to the Premiership this season. I have 100 percent faith in Lennon. He’s a great motivator and will benefit Jason.”
O’Connor, 33, saw his wages shoot up from £2,000 a week to £16,000 when he became the first British player to join the Russian League. Although the move, and a subsequent one to Birmingham City, made him a millionaire, he blew his money on an extravagant lifestyle before a sorry decline involving crashed sports cars and drugs offences.
In an interview with The Scotsman on Saturday, O’Connor feared his wife and family were about to walk out on him before he resolved to clean up his act.
Now player-manager at Selkirk in the Lowland League, he said: “I often ask myself: what if I’d stayed at Hibs for another year or two? Would that have changed things? Would that have made me grow up more? Definitely it would.”