Luck shines on Danny Galbraith at long last

CELTIC fans may beg to differ, but it was hard to begrudge Danny Galbraith his headline-grabbing moment on Wednesday night.

When the young winger coolly slotted home Hibernian's stunning stoppage time winner at Celtic Park, it made all of the trials and tribulations he has suffered over the past few years suddenly seem worthwhile.

Regarded as something of a prodigy when he was at Hearts, the Galashiels-born player was smuggled south before he could make the first-team breakthrough at Tynecastle as Manchester United recruited him at the age of 16.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Sadly for a player in whom Sir Alex Ferguson took a keen interest, Galbraith's three years at Old Trafford were plagued by a series of injuries and operations which pushed him close to giving up

But his mental and physical fortitude saw him emerge from a dark place to be handed a fresh opportunity by Hibs last summer and the 19-year-old earned an enduring place in the hearts of the Easter Road faithful on Wednesday with his first goal for the club.

"I think I was due a bit of luck," smiled Galbraith, "and it came on Wednesday night with the goal. But I have put a lot of hard work in to make that moment possible.

"I had a nightmare 18-month spell during my time at United. I hurt my ankle when I was in the youth team, came from that and then needed a knee operation. After I came back from that, I had another ten months out because I needed double groin surgery. I hardly kicked a ball.

"There were times when I thought I wouldn't get back to playing football at all. I spent more time seeing doctors and specialists than I did playing football in Manchester. I was just a young kid and being away from home at that age and in those circumstances was difficult.

"There were days when I was in the gym working on my own when I would ask myself if it was worth it. You get depressed when you see everyone else making progress and you are stuck in a rut.

"Although things didn't work out there, at least I was at the best club to get the best treatment. United were fantastic and helped me get this second chance. I think I probably cost Manchester United more money going to see specialists than anyone else. They flew me here, there and everywhere to see various people.

"Happily, it wasn't career threatening in the end and I was given the best of care by United. I tend to think things happen for a reason and now I just want to make the most of the opportunity I have at Hibs."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

If his time on the pitch was limited at Old Trafford, Galbraith clearly picked up good habits off it. His level-headed demeanour and articulate intercourse with the media provoke instant comparisons with his compatriot Darren Fletcher. While he was unable to follow Fletcher's path to first team success at United, Galbraith is optimistic he can begin to fulfil his potential and ambitions under John Hughes in Edinburgh. He has yet to make the starting line-up for Hibs, his goal on Wednesday coming in his 11th substitute appearance for the club, but is clearly pressing his claims.

"I don't want to get too carried away," he said, "because it was only one game and one goal. But getting into the team has been my aim from the moment I came to Hibs. If the goal helps me do that, then great, I'll take it.

"But I'm still young and we have had a settled side this season, so although I've been disappointed at not playing as much as I would have liked, I understand it. I'm still the youngest player in the squad."

With Hibs now just two points behind second-placed Celtic in the SPL, self-belief is not a scarce commodity in Hughes' dressing room. Galbraith paid tribute to his manager for his role in Wednesday night's triumph.

"He didn't actually talk about the Celtic game for the few days beforehand," said Galbraith. "He only spoke about it just before we headed to Glasgow and told us there was no point going there not believing we could win. We have worked really hard this season and had some good results along the way. We did well against Rangers at Ibrox, although we only got a point, and the manager just said we shouldn't be afraid of Celtic. He really instilled some belief in us.

"Celtic are going through something of a transition at the moment, but at the end of the day it's still Celtic at Parkhead and all that entails. It was a massive win for us, but it won't count for anything unless we can follow it up at home to St Mirren on Saturday.

"Those are the kind of games we really need to make sure we win if we want to achieve what the manager wants and finish third in the SPL."