Derek Riordan was without doubt one of the most talented football players of his generation. Despite his slight build, Derek had the born striker's uncanny knack of being in the right place at the right time, and his ability from dead ball situations was second to none.
National team Scotland
International debut 17th August 2005 (versus Austria)
Riordan was born in Edinburgh on 16th January 1983, and was brought up in the Pilton area of the city, attending Craigmuir Primary School where his football skills were first noticed, being the star player in the school team which won five out of the six trophies they competed for. He later joined Pilton Sporting Club and scored an amazing 116 goals in one season, including eleven in a cup final, before moving to the famous Hutchison Vale Boys Club.
When not playing, Derek was a fanatical Hibs fan, attending Easter Road whenever possible, although his enthusiasm occasionally got the better of him and he was once ejected from the ground after snapping a seat when Kilmarnock scored a goal during the 1998/99 relegation season.
Alex McLeish signed Derek in 2000, but it was his successor, the legendary Franck Sauzee who first showed faith in the teenager's ability, throwing him into the cauldron at Tynecastle in the new years' derby on 29 December 2001. But for a fantastic save from Hearts' keeper Antti Niemi, Derek would have marked the occasion with a debut goal.
Derek continued to learn his trade under Bobby Williamson, and in January 2003, he went on a short term loan to Cowdenbeath, scoring four goals in three games, including a hat-trick in a 7–5 win away to Brechin City.
The youngster was given an extended opportunity in the Hibs first team towards the end of the that season, before becoming a first team regular the following campaign, going on to win four Under 21 caps for Scotland.
In March 2004, Derek was part of a Hibs side who reached the final of the Scottish League Cup after a memorable penalties win over Rangers at Hampden, but unfortunately Bobby Williamson's young Hibs side which included Scott Brown, Kevin Thompson, Gary Caldwell and Garry O'Connor lost 2-0 to an experienced Livingston team.
Derek was the club's top goal-scorer for each of the next three seasons, with 18, 23 and 20 goals respectively, earning him recognition in the form of the Scottish PFA Young Player of the Year award and also the Scottish Writers Young Player of the Year award in 2005. During that season, he won the SPL Young Player of the month on an incredible six occasions.
Derek Riordan was in-form during season 2004/05, including netting a hat-trick against Kilmarnock at Easter Road
He made his full international debut in August 2005, as a substitute for Scotland in a 2-2 draw with Austria in Graz, in a match where lifelong pal and team-mate Garry O'Connor scored his first goal for his country.
Inevitably Derek's form brought him to the attention of several clubs and Hibs accepted an offer of £500,000 from Cardiff, but Derek decided to stay in Edinburgh. Bids from Lokomotiv Moscow and Kaiserslautern were also accepted by Hibs, but Derek turned down these moves because he did not want to move overseas. A reputed bid from Rangers of £400,000 was rejected by the club.
In January 2006, Derek signed a pre-contract with Celtic, however with his contract due to expire in October, Hibs reluctantly accepted an offer of £170,000 allowing him to move west in June. Despite manager Gordon Strachan going on record to say that he was the best finisher at the club, Derek was unable to command a regular first team place and only made 32 appearances in two years, scoring eight goals. He did however win a Scottish Cup winners medal as an unused substitute in Celtic's 1-0 victory over Dunfermline, and his sixteen appearances in the SPL entitled him to an SPL Winners medal as Celtic won the title.
Ironically, during his spell in Glasgow, his former team-mates blossomed under Tony Mowbray, then John Collins won the CIS League Cup, beating Kilmarnock 5-1 at Hampden.
After a public fall-out with the manager, Derek trained with the reserves, and a number of clubs including Burnley attempted to buy him, but Celtic rejected their offers. Hibs twice attempted to sign him on loan, but Celtic insisted that any move should be permanent, so on the final day of the 2008 summer transfer window, Hibs manager Mixu Paatelainen paid an undisclosed fee, believed to be in the region of £400,000, to bring him back into the fold.
With his preferred number 10 already occupied, Riordan returned to Hibernian with squad number 01
His return was greeted with enthusiasm from the fans who turned out in their numbers to witness the return of the prodigal son and he was given a tremendous reception when he made his 'second' debut as a substitute in the 61st minute of a game against Dundee United at Easter Road.
In his next appearance, he scored the only goal of the game against Hamilton, and ended the 2008/09 season as Hibs' top goal-scorer with 12 goals.
His form continued into the next season and he was awarded the SPL Player of the Month award and also selected to play for Scotland by George Burley against Japan and Wales, but his international career ended with the appointment of Craig Levein.
A winning penalty kick at Tynecastle in May 2009 sparked crowd trouble, and a Hearts' supporter ran onto the pitch and attempted to assault Derek as he celebrated with the jubilant Hibs fans.
A trademark free-kick against Kilmarnock gave Derek his 100th goal in senior football, and his scoring form continued despite playing in a new wide midfield role under John Hughes. Despite being the on-form striker, Levein chose less gifted forwards and publically stated that Derek would have to up his work rate to secure a squad place, an accusation that many thought unfair.
A run of poor results saw John Hughes replaced by Colin Calderwood who gave Derek the captaincy however the pressure of that role weighed heavily on his shoulders and he was sent off for a reckless challenge of Hearts Rudi Skacel in the dying minutes of a two-nil defeat at Easter Road.
He returned in style the following week, scoring both goals in a two-one win over Motherwell, and later that season became the first Hibs player in thirty years to notch up a century of goals for the club, following in the footsteps of the Famous Five, Gordon Smith, Bobby Johnstone, Lawrie Reilly, Eddie Turnbull, and Willie Ormond as well as Joe Baker, Jimmy O'Rourke and Arthur Duncan.
A goal against Hamilton in March 2011 meant that Derek became the third highest goal-scorer in the history of the SPL behind only Kris Boyd and Henrik Larsson.
His Hibs contract ran out in the summer of 2011, and Derek signed a two-year deal with Chinese Super League club Shaanxi Chan-Ba, making his debut as a 76th minute substitute against Liaoning Whowin.
He made his first start in a 1–1 draw against Shenzhen Ruby three days later. His first goal came when he scored against Chengdu Blades in a 3–1 win, and although Derek became a fans' favourite, team manager, Gao Hongbo, criticised him after a defeat by Dalian Shide, and he decided to leave the club and his contract was terminated by mutual consent in November 2011.
He returned to the UK and trained with Kilmarnock and Blackpool before signing a short term deal with St Johnstone for whom he played four times.
After training with Milton Keynes Dons and turning down a reported bid from Ross County, Derek signed a three month deal with Bristol Rovers, making his debut on 29th September 2012, in a 2–1 victory against local rivals Exeter City. He was released at the end of his contract, having made 12 appearances without scoring a goal.
Derek's career was beset with off-field problems and in August 2008, whilst a Celtic player, he was banned from every night club in the city for five years although this was doubled the following December.
His 'unusual' blonde diagonal Mohican haircut made him stand out in a crowd and he became an easy target for rival supporters who sought to provoke a reaction. His high profile, coupled with the increase in social media ensured that any incident was widely reported.
In his first spell at Hibs, Derek played 146 times, scoring 64 goals, and after returning he played a further 114 games, scoring 40 times.
The controversial figure still sparks debate amongst the Hibs faithful, with some upset that he never truly fulfilled his potential, and whilst it is true that many less talented players received far more international caps and won more trophies, the majority forgave his shortcomings choosing rather to remember his on-field contribution to the cause with his magnificent range of skills which lightened up many a cold day at Easter Road.
Full name Derek George Riordan
Date of birth 16th January 1983
Place of birth Edinburgh, Scotland
Height 5ft 10in