Performing consistently in the Hibernian teams of both Tony Mowbray and John Collins, Steven Whittaker was in the side that won the 2007 League Cup Final before joining Rangers later that year. The defender rejoined the Leith side in the summer of 2017, 15 years after making the breakthrough at Easter Road.
National team Scotland
International debut 12th August 2009 (versus Norway)
Despite being a boyhood Hearts fan, Whittaker joined Kenny Miller and Derek Riordan in signing for Hibernian from the Hutchison Vale Boys Club. He made his debut against St Johnstone in a 1–0 win on 12th May 2002.
Whittaker is an attack-minded right back who, during his first spell, won the CIS League Cup in 2007 before sealing a big money move to Ibrox and subsequently playing in the English Premiership for Norwich City.
He was born in Edinburgh on 16th June 1984, and was another in a long line of players from Hutchison Vale Boys Club who signed for Hibs, eventually becoming part of Tony Mowbray's 'golden generation' of youngsters who lit up the SPL with their free-flowing brand of football.
Bobby Williamson gave Whittaker his debut at McDiarmid Park against an already relegated St. Johnstone in a 1–0 win, in the last game of a disappointing 2001/02 campaign which saw Hibs finish in tenth place. The following season, Whittaker was used sparingly, although his versatility saw him play in both defensive and midfield positions.
He scored his first career goal against Partick Thistle in a 3–2 win on 3rd January 2004 and was unlucky not to make the starting line-up when Hibs lost the 2004 Scottish League Cup Final to Livingston.
Whittaker's Hibernian career took off with the arrival of Tony Mowbray following Williamson's departure to Plymouth Athletic, making the right back spot his own and helping the club to a third place finish, for only the fourth time in 30 years, as part of a back four which included Chris Hogg, Rob Jones and David Murphy.
Full backs at Easter Road, particularly those on the right side are invariably compared to the great John Brownlie, and according to the late, great Eddie Turnbull, Steven was one of the few who had the ability to merit such comparison.
Steven's form did not go unnoticed, and he became a regular in the Scotland Under-21 side.
In October 2006, he was selected for the full Scotland squad for the Euro 2008 qualifying match against Ukraine, although he did not feature in the match. The following month he played for Scotland B in a goalless draw with the Republic of Ireland.
When Mowbray left for West Bromwich Albion, Steven retained his place in the side under John Collins, and was an important figure in the 2007 CIS League Cup winning side.
Whittaker keeps close to Colin Nish during the 2007 CIS Cup Final at Hampden Park (pic: SNS)
During his first spell for the club, Whittaker made 174 appearances in all competitions for Hibs, scoring five goals in the process, before completing a £2m move to Rangers on 1st August 2007. Whittaker signed a five-year contract with the Ibrox club, joining former team-mates Ian Murray and Kevin Thompson. Manager John Collins was disappointed to lose Whittaker, but the club had to address an unhealthy debt situation, and in the space of a year took in almost £9m in transfer fees.
The form of Alan Hutton meant that Whittaker started his Ibrox career at left back, and he marked his debut with a goal against Falkirk in a 7-2 win. When Hutton moved south, Whittaker returned to his preferred right back position, winning the admiration of the Rangers' fans with some fine attacking performances.
In particular, a goal against Sporting Lisbon in the UEFA Cup Quarter Final second leg, when he picked he ball up on the half-way line and beat several defenders before calmly slotting the ball into the net, is still fondly remembered by the Ibrox faithful.
He made his debut for the full national side on 12th August 2009, in a 4–0 defeat to Norway, and he thereafter became a regular choice, winning 31 caps in total for Scotland.
In July 2011, Whittaker signed a new five year deal with Rangers, however the financial problems at the club resulted in him becoming a free-agent in the summer of 2012 when he refused to transfer his contract from Rangers to Charles Green's 'newco.'
During his five years in Glasgow, Steven played 209 times, scoring 28 goals. He won three SPL titles, three League Cups and two Scottish Cups, and also helped Rangers to the final of the UEFA Cup in Manchester, beating Panathinaikos, Werder Bremen, Sporting Lisbon and Fiorentina en route. He played in midfield for Walter Smith's side in the final, but Dick Advocat's Zenit St Petersburg proved too strong in a 2-0 victory.
Despite reputed interest from Turkish side Bursapor, Steven signed a four year deal for English Premier League club Norwich City on 30th June 2012, but an ankle injury suffered during a friendly match, ironically against Celtic, caused him to miss the start of the season. Co-incidentally, he joined up with former Hibs' manager Colin Calderwood who was Assistant Manager at Carrow Road.
In October 2012, Whittaker made his competitive debut in a League Cup victory over Tottenham Hotspur and few days later played in a 1-0 win over Stoke City in the Premier League.
On 8th December 2012, Whittaker scored his first English Premier League goal in a 4-3 win over Swansea City.
In the opening game of the 2013/14 English Premier League season, Whittaker scored with a goal against Everton. His blasted shot struck the post and bounced back out, but he beat Tim Howard to the rebound to tap it back in. He also assisted debuting teammate Ricky van Wolfswinkel; Whittaker sliced a shot with his foot which floated toward Van Wolfswinkel, who was free to head-in the goal.
Norwich were relegated in season 2013/14, but Whittaker played regularly during the 2014/15 as Norwich City secured an instant return to the Premier League with a 2-0 victory over Middlesbrough in the Championship play-off final at Wembley.
Whittaker assisted with the second goal, scored after just 15 minutes, playing a great ball into the channel for Nathan Redmond, with the England winger striking home a low effort past the goalkeeper to send one end of Wembley into an unexpectedly early ecstasy.
Norwich were again relegated in 2015/16, as Whittaker played less frequently for their first team. In May 2017, Norwich announced that Whittaker would be released at the end of his contract.
On 15th July 2017, Whittaker re-joined Hibernian on a three-year deal. He scored a goal in his second league debut for the Leith side in a 3–1 win against Partick Thistle on 5th August.
The dedicated professional's overall contribution to Hibs, including his attacking performances and contribution in the CIS Cup Final, ensures that the defender will always have a place in the hearts of the Easter Road faithful.
Full name Steven Gordon Whittaker
Date of birth 16th June 1984
Place of birth Edinburgh
Height 6ft 1in