The stout defender quickly became a favourite of the Easter Road faithful with his skilful touch coupled with attacking runs down the left wing.
It would be fair to say that the appointment of Tony Mowbray to replace Plymouth bound Bobby Williamson was not met with universal approval from the Hibs’ fans who remembered him as a no-nonsense centre half with Celtic and were concerned that he would look for the same style from his players.
The man credited for inventing the Celtic huddle however soon won the supporters over, encouraging the young talent at the club to express themselves and play and entertaining passing game.
Whilst he had inherited a ‘golden generation’ of youngsters including Garry O’Connor, Derek Riordan, Scott Brown, Kevin Thomson, Gary Caldwell, Steven Whittaker and Steven Fletcher, the likeable big Englishman quickly moved to augment his squad although none of the new arrivals were exactly household names at the time but many soon would be.
Dean Shiels, Chris Hogg, Guillaume ’Boozy’ Beuzelin and Ivan Sproule arrived at Easter Road along with an unknown left back who had been released from Middlesbrough; David Murphy.
David was born on 1st Match 1984 in Hartlepool, County Durham where his football talents were soon spotted by Premiership side Middlesbrough’s youth academy.
In August 2001 ‘Boro manager Steve McLaren gave David a professional contract, then the following month, aged 17, he made his debut in a 3–1 victory over Northampton Town in the League Cup, scoring one of the goals, then made his Premiership debut on a 2–1 defeat to Blackburn Rovers.
He played 16 times over the next two seasons, mainly as a substitute however a broken foot kept him out of Middlesbrough's squad for most of that season, but in March 2004 he joined Division Two side Barnsley on loan, initially for a month, making his debut in a 2–1 defeat against Sheffield Wednesday. The loan was extended to the end of the season and David made ten appearances for The Tykes.
David made his Hibs’ debut on 7th August 2004 against Kilmarnock at Easter Road in a back four that included Steven Whittaker, Gary Caldwell and Colin Murdoch.
He quickly became a favourite of the Easter Road faithful with his skilful touch and ability to kill a ball arriving from any angle, coupled with his attacking runs down the left wing. He was also a stout defender and few wingers ever managed to get the better of him.
His first goal came in a 2-2 home draw with Celtic on 19 September 2004 and he was a regular in the side reached the Scottish Cup semi-final and were unlucky to lose 2-1 to Dundee United at Hampden after leading for much of the game.
He also played in both European games against Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk and scored his first goal for the club in a 2-2 draw with Kilmarnock at Rugby Park on 2nd January 2006.
The following season, with Hibs’ youngsters playing some of the most entertaining football seen in the capital for many a year although two games that will never be forgotten by those lucky enough to have been present actually took place in Glasgow.
On 27 August 2005 after a goalless first half, David intercepted a Fernando Ricksen pass and sent substitute Ivan Sproule clear through on goal. His lob gave Hibs a 1-0 lead, then amazingly the Northern Irishman added another two to claim a hat-trick and secure the three points.
A few months later, Hibs returned to Ibrox in the fourth round of the Scottish Cup and David helped keep another clean sheet whilst Garry O’Connor, Ivan Sproule and Chris Killen scored at the other end to claim a place in the next round.
An impressive 5-1 away win over Falkirk set up another Scottish Cup semi-final however a combination of injuries to key players coupled with Hearts’ considerably more experienced and expensive squad saw Mowbray’s youngsters easily beaten.
Season 2006/7 started with an 8-0 aggregate win over Dinaburg in the Intertoto Cup which included a goal from David, before Hibs succumbed to OB Odense in the next round.
David’s form caught the eye of Scotland manager Alex McLeish who desperately searched his family tree to find a Scottish ancestor but sadly without success. David himself checked to see whether he was eligible for the Republic of Ireland however his Irish roots were one generation too far gone.
As predicted however, Hibs’ style of play had not gone unnoticed and Tony Mowbray was lured away to West Bromwich Albion however his replacement was another who favoured the passing game.
Under John Collins, Hibs easily disposed of Hearts in the League Cup quarter final before drawing St Johnstone in the semi-final at Tynecastle. With both halves of the Old Firm out of the tournament, expectations were high that Hibs could win the trophy and few gave the Saints any chance, particularly when Steven Fletcher scored an early goal in front of 16112 fans at Tynecastle.
In typical Hibs’ fashion however, St Johnstone equalised and looked the more likely to score in the dying stages of the game as the Hibs fans anxiously looked on. There was a collective sigh of relief when the referee Craig Thomson blew his whistle after 90 minutes, then early into the first period of extra time, Hibs were awarded a free-kick 25 yards from goal. As the Hibs’ fans held their breath, David exquisitely curled the ball around the Saints’ wall into the corner of the net sparking wild celebrations from three sides of Tynecastle.
In the dying minutes Benji added a third and the scramble for Hampden tickets commenced.
On 17 Match 2007, an enormous support travelled along the M8 in confident mood to face old adversary Jim Jeffries’ Kilmarnock, and for once their confidence was justified.
With 28 minutes gone, Hibs were awarded a corner kick and with the snow just starting, David sent the perfect cross into the box which Rob Jones headed into the net.
Further goals Steven Fletcher (2) and Benji (2) capped off a fantastic performance and saw the CIS Cup decked in green and white ribbons as the delirious Hibs’ fans celebrated.
Unfortunately, internal problems at the club saw a players’ protest against the manager’s style and hopes of a Cup double vanished with a replay defeat to Dunfermline in the semi-final of the Scottish Cup a few weeks later.
Hibs did start the next season in style however with a 1-0 win at Tynecastle then after eight league games unbeaten Collins’ men travelled to Ibrox where David scored the only goal of the game, sending Hibs to the top of the table for the first time in years.
With hopes running high, a poor run of form saw Collins’ side drop down the league and David scored Hibs’ goal in his 134th and last appearance for the club which was in a 1-1 draw with Celtic at Parkhead just before Christmas 2007.
On 17 January 2008, former Hibs’ boss Alex McLeish swooped to take David to Birmingham City for a fee of £1.5 million. He made his first-team debut on 2 February in the Premier League against Derby County.
Unfortunately, the Blues were unable to avoid relegation although David ended the season in style scoring in the last game of the season.
David was first choice left back in the First Division and quickly became a fans’ favourite at St Andrews before he suffered a broken kneecap toward the end of the season as he helped the club to promotion.
That injury caused him to miss the whole of the 2009–10 Premier League campaign but he retuned to first-team action to score the opening goal as Birmingham beat Rochdale in the second round of the League Cup in August 2010.
Despite helping the club to reach the final at the Wembley Stadium, David had to be content with a seat on the bench as Birmingham went on to win the competition, defeating favourites Arsenal 2–1. David made his first appearance of the 2011–12 season in the Europa League play-off round first leg against Portuguese club Nacional, the first time that Birmingham had participated in major European competition for nearly 50 years, and scored Birmingham's first goal as they beat Club Brugge 2–1 away in the Europa League group stage.
His seven goals during that season helped the club reach a play off position however a knee injury sustained in November 2012 saw him out for the remainder of the season.
He returned to first-team action in the starting eleven for the 4–1 win at home to Sheffield Wednesday in September 2013 and scored twice as Birmingham beat Millwall 4–0 a few days later. After a further four appearances an adverse reaction in his knee forced him to announce his retirement just two days after his 30th birthday.
In a statement on the Birmingham City website, David said: “All of my rehabilitation went as well as it could have done and I managed to return to playing for a brief spell. However, I wasn't able to sustain the heights of my previous form and as a result I have no option but to retire. Having sought advice from the surgeon and medical staff at the football club, I had to make sure in my own mind that I was ready to retire. I have reached that decision and will look forward to the next chapter in my life.”
Birmingham manager Lee Clark described David as the most talented left back on the Championship in recent years and said: “From a personal point of view, it’s always sad when a player has to end his career through injury. It’s a career that had no much potential. He’s done a lot during his time in the game but he could have done even more because of his ability. He’s still a young age really, and should be coming into his best years. It’s a sad day."
We wish Murphy all the best in his future endevours.