THE PLAYERS

 

Players to wear the green and white of the Hibees.

Here is a growing collection of players and internationalists to feature for Hibernian throughout the years.

Position Defender

Defender Smith, a constant presence in the green and white sides of the early to mid-2000s, brought an air of assurance to a young and ambitious squad.

 

Gary Smith Profile

 

Smith was often vastly underrated as one of the most dependable and experienced defenders in the country. He was already a seasoned veteran by the time he arrived at Easter Road in 2000 having started his career as a teenager with Falkirk back in 1989.

His first full season as a professional brought immediate success in the form of the First Division title in the 1990/91 campaign, which saw The Bairns pip Airdrieonians at the top of the table by a single point on the final day.

His form in the second tier was enough to attract admiring glances from several clubs, but ultimately Smith would join Aberdeen - themselves narrowly beaten to the league title in the previous season - ahead of the 1991/92 season.

Smith established himself as the Dons first choice left-back, also filling in at centre half when needed, though the team would be unable to replicate the form of previous years, finishing a still-respectable sixth at the end of the season.

He would spend five years at Pittodrie in his first spell at the Club and would pick up a League Cup winners medal in 1995, but it was his contribution in the final of the same competition three years earlier when Smith earned unwanted attention for his performance.

Aberdeen faced Rangers at Hampden in November 1992 and the young Smith had put in the kind of solid display which would become his trademark later in his career, keeping Ally McCoist quiet for much of the game.

But with six minutes of extra time remaining, and the match still level at 1-1, Smith diverted a David Robertson cross beyond Theo Snelders in the Dons goal, which would proved to be the winner, handing the trophy to the Gers. Ironically, he would line up alongside Alex McLeish and Mixu Paatelainen in that game, both of whom he would later cross paths with then he arrived at Easter Road.

Smith spent a further three years at Pittodrie between 1997 and 2000, but after initially leaving the Dons in 1996, he made the less-travelled moved from Scottish football to the French game with Stade Rennes alongside former Hearts winger Allan Johnston.

Les Rouges et Noirs had finished a credible eigth in Ligue 1 the previous year and featured a talented young squad including future World Cup winner Stéphane Guivarc'h. Unfortunately for Smith, he featured just 15 times over the course of the season and was unable to displace the settled defensive pairing of François Denis and Corneliu Papur, returning to Scotland at the end of the 1996/97 campaign.

By the time his contract at Pittodrie was dur to expire, Smith had been scouted by his former Dons defensive partner McLeish, who was now in the dugout at Easter Road. The Leith side had seen stalwarts John Hughes and Shaun Dennis leave the Club and were keen to add Premier League experience to a newly built squad.

Making his debut in a goalless Edinburgh Derby in 2000, Smith would spend six years at the Club, starting 183 of his 189 appearances during his time in Leith.

Given that Smith had only found the net twice in over 300 career appearances before signing on at Easter Road, his two goals for the Club could be considered prolific by comparison.

His first, a thumping header in a 4-0 demolition of Stranraer in a 2002 Scottish Cup replay, was overshadowed by what would prove to be Franck Sauzee's only win during his fleeting 69-day reign in the dugout at Easter Road, but Smith's second, over three years later, is a little better remembered by the green and white faithful.

The tail end of the 2004/05 season saw Dundee United arrive in Leith two points adrift at the bottom of the table, while the home side were being pushed all the way by Aberdeen in the race for third place and European qualification.

With both sides knowing they could ill-afford to a slip up, they put on a pulsating contest neatly poised at 2-2 heading into stoppage time. The home side had seen strikes from Dean Shiels and Garry O'Connor cancelled out by the Terrors' Jim McIntyre and Jason Scotland respectively, before captain Ian Murray had seen red for an off the ball incident.

The news had filtered through that The Dons were leading Inverness by a goal to nil when Stephen Glass swung in a free kick around 30-yards from goal and, after some pinball in the United box, Smith reacted quickest to head the ball home from close range at the front post, sparking wild celebration from the home fans, even prompting keeper Simon Brown to run the entire length of the pitch to celebrate with his teammates in front of the Famous Five stand.

It would prove a pivotal goal as, just a few weeks later, a draw away to Motherwell at Fir Park secured European Football for the Easter Road side, with Hibernian pipping Aberdeen to third place by virtue of goal difference.

With his contract expiring and then manager Tony Mowbray determined to build a younger squad, Smith would depart for Cowdenbeath in the summer of 2006, before being loaned to Dundee later in the season.

he retired from the professional game in 2007 before taking on an entirely different vocation as a fireman a year later, although he has been involved as a coach with Lowland League side Spartans.

Still living in Edinburgh, Smith remains a season ticket holder at Easter Road to this day.

 

Written by James Delaney

 


 

Full name Gary Smith
Date of birth 25th March 1971
Place of birth Glasgow, Scotland
Height 6ft 0in

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