As a youngster growing up in Peebles, Kevin Thomson dreamed of playing for boyhood heroes Hibs, and the 28-year-old’s love of the club was a major factor in his decision to return to Scotland after agreeing to leave Middlesbrough last month.
Hibs boss Pat Fenlon had previously insisted that the only way the Scotland internationalist would rejoin the Easter Road club, would be if he agreed to play for no wages, and, unbelievably, that’s exactly what he agreed to do.
To the amazement of the Hibs’ fans, the classy midfielder has signed a deal to the end of the season, making his second debut in the green and white jersey as a late substitute in Sunday’s controversial Edinburgh derby, which ended in a goalless draw.
After the game, Thomson said: “I wanted to help the club. I’d say Hibs are the only club in Britain for whom I’d play for nothing.
“If people praise me for playing for nothing, that’s up to them, I’m just trying to do my best for the team. It wasn’t on my mind when I came back, but the more I trained and worked with the manager, the more I wanted to play.
“I had a few deals elsewhere that fell through and in the end I asked the manager if I could play.
“I’m not thinking about the summer. I am just looking to get to the end of the season and hopefully making it a successful couple of months.”
“That’s the first time I’ve been on the park for six or seven weeks. It was nice to come on and the reception was touching.”
Kevin’s parents, Allan Thomson and Elizabeth Ramsay, married in Peebles in 1978 and Kevin was born in Edinburgh in 1984, although he was brought up in the Borders town.
His mother was the daughter of a lorry driver, and his dad, a mechanical engineer, was the son of local butcher, Robert.
Kevin’s paternal great-grandfather, David Thomson, also lived in Peebles and was a carter, like his own father, Alexander, who lived in Leith, near the Hibs ground in Easter Road.
Thomson first honed his football skills with Peebles Thistle, in the Eastern Region Youth League, before being lured to Hutchison Vale, where he came to the notice of Coventry City, who signed him on a four-year contract. Things didn’t work out for the homesick youngster in the Midlands, however, and he returned to Scotland, signing for Hibs.
Thomson’s first spell at Easter Road was as part of a golden generation of youngsters, including best pal Scott Brown, Steven Fletcher, Gary Caldwell and Steven Whittaker, who all went on to play at a higher level.
He played in the club’s League Cup final defeat to Livingston, and captained the club during another successful League Cup campaign which culminated with a 5-1 win over Jim Jeffries’ Kilmarnock, although he left to join Rangers before the final for a reported £2million fee.
At Ibrox, Thomson won back-to-back league titles, a Scottish Cup medal and two League Cup medals, before current Scotland boss Gordon Strachan enticed him to Middlesbrough, but injuries blighted his career with the Teeside club.
Ironically, his arrival in Leith was preceded by another Borders player leaving – former Manchester United winger Danny Galbraith, who after playing a total of 63 games for Hibs has signed for League of Ireland newcomers Limerick.
Not only that, Thomson’s deal ends in the summer when yet another Borderer, Chirnside’s Liam Craig, arrives from St Johnstone.