Within the space of 24 hours, Leigh Griffiths scored his 100th career goal which helped Hibs beat Hearts at Tynecastle for the first time since May 2009, was named Hibs’ Player of the Year at the club’s end of season dinner, won the club’s Goal of the Season for his stunning right foot volley against Dundee United in November AND won the prestigious Clydesdale Bank Player of the Season award.
These honours come on top of the PFA Young Player of the Year award he won last week, and the future looks bright for the 22 year old who now hopes to cap an excellent season with a Scottish Cup Winners medal against Celtic on Sunday 26th May. Before that however he is determined to help Hibs grab two victories against Kilmarnock on Wednesday night then Dundee this weekend.
After the award ceremony, Leigh said: “It’s down to consistency, even when the team’s not been playing well, I’ve still managed to score goals. I’ve been working on the training park on my link up play and my touches and other things I can add to my game and thankfully it has paid off. I didn’t even know it was my 100th goal, but it was not a bad way to get it. We want to get as much momentum as we can, going into the cup final. There are two important league games to go, we want to get six points and finish in seventh place.
“I’ve spoken to Wolves but I just want to concentrate on the here and now. There’s a lot to play for, and a lot to be decided as well.”
Leigh was born and brought up in the capital and is a lifelong supporter of the club he now plays for. As a youngster, he was a regular at Easter Road, when not honing the football skills which brought him to the attention of Livingston.
He made his debut for Livingston as a sixteen-year-old then went on trial to West Bromwich Albion in April 2009 and impressed manager Tony Mowbray, but when he left for Celtic, Leigh returned to West Lothian. In 47 games, Leigh scored 22 goals before Dundee paid £125,000 for his services. Leigh quickly became a fans’ favourite at Dens Park where he scored three goals to help Dundee win the 2009–10 Scottish Challenge Cup. In total, he scored 34 goals in 62 appearances, which brought him to the attention of Mick McCarthy at Premier League Wolves who paid £150,000 for his signature.
Unfortunately for Leigh, thing didn’t work out as planned at Molineux and he only managed one appearance in the famous black and gold strip; as a substitute in a League Cup tie at Northampton Town.
In August 2011, Colin Calderwood signed Leigh on a short term loan, and when he was replaced by Pat Fenlon, Leigh agreed to stay until the end of the season and his goals helped Hibs to the Scottish Cup Final and to escape relegation.
This season, Leigh has been a revelation, scoring an incredible 28 goals, including a hat-trick against Kilmarnock in the Scottish Cup Quarter Final, and two more in the Semi-Final against Falkirk. He also made his Scotland debut against Luxembourg.
After the Cup Final however, Leigh’s future remains in doubt. His parent club Wolves have indicated that they wanted to take advantage of the one year option they hold on his contract, and that would mean that he would start next season in the third tier of English football after the Midlands’ Club were relegated at the end of the season.
To make matter even more uncertain, last season’s manager Dean Saunders was sacked and the club are currently looking for a replacement.
Manager Pat Fenlon insists that Hibs are doing everything within their power to keep Leigh at Easter Road; however he concedes that that final decision is out-with the club’s control.
Whatever happens, Leigh’s place in the Hibs history books has already been assured.