Three displays might sum this up: the match against Rangers in his first spell, 4-0, with all the goals created by him. The match at Ibrox beginning his second spell, playing like he’d never been away, pulling all the strings, another victory. And the match at Ibrox in his third spell, conjuring up the “pass of the millennium” for Daryl Horgan’s goal. That was very Hibs, raving about an assist when your team had been leathered 6-1, and there was a lot of teasing from Rangers supporters, from many clubs in fact.
But fans from all over have been warm in their wishes for Allan to make a full recovery from his heart condition and get back to playing his best. He spoke well to Sky’s Luke Shanley when describing his anxiety - but not his out-and-out fear - over whether he would ever pull on his boots and craft another of those killer reverse passes. I wasn’t surprised by that, remembering how smart he’d been in a long interview - not something all players like - back in 2017 when he was on loan from Celtic at Dundee.
Pondering his status in the Scottish game he said: “Hearts fans probably don’t like me because I played for Hibs. Hibs fans probably don’t like me because I left. Rangers fans probably don’t like me because I went to Celtic. I started at Dundee United but their fans probably don’t like me because I’m now at Dundee. Celtic fans know that when I was a wee boy my favourite team were Rangers and that’s probably a good enough reason for Aberdeen fans to not like me. It’s a shambles!”
All of this, by the way, was presented with that fetching smile of his; he wasn’t remotely feeling sorry for himself. Same as now. He suffers from a condition that has turned out to be career-ending for some footballers, life-ending for others, but he is determined to beat it.
Hibs fans have forgiven Allan for leaving and now that he’s back they couldn’t love him more. The tradition he’s continuing is that of the old-school inside-forward: Bobby Johnstone then Alex Cropley then Russell Latapy and now Allan.
But beyond Easter Road that’s also a Scottish tradition: the guy in the middle of the park, never tall but big in ideas, with dancing feet to go with the bold, adventurous mind. In that interview four years ago he told me: “When I play I want folk to go: ‘I saw something out there today. That’s the kind of football I like.’” The kind we all like. It’s cheering he has had his condition identified and a procedure for keeping it in check established. Hopefully his full return will coincide with our full return for Allan needs an audience if he’s going to top THAT PASS.