Dunfermline Athletic

Steven Whittaker’s first interview

Tuesday, 30th Jun 2020

“I remember coming here when Dunfermline were in the SPL, it was always a place where I liked to come and play. There was a great atmosphere in the stadium and we will be looking to get that going again.”

New signing Steven Whittaker admitted he was excited with his move to East End Park and to what is a new challenge to him in his football career.

“I left Hibs at the end of the season and with the lockdown and everything that has happened, it was just a matter of weighing up options to see what was out there for me.”

Steven celebrated his 36th birthday during lockdown and he had plenty time to consider what his next move should be:-

“I was getting to the point where it was going to be an important step towards what I want to become further down the line.

“When I knew that Stevie was interested in getting a chat going with me we met up and he wanted me to come here and play but I had aspirations to learn the coaching side of things as well. So once we got chatting we managed to agree that I could come in and be a player coach. That is something that I am really keen on doing, I really want to get involved with Stevie and the management, have a say and use my experience in the game to help in ever which way that I can. I am really looking forward to the challenge.”

Steven has a some experience on the coaching side having been asked to assist Eddie May along with Grant Murray in the managerless period until Jack Ross’ appointment.

“We took the team up to St Johnstone and got a convincing 4-1 win that day. It was one of these things the players probably react to the situation anyway but it was nice for it all to work out on that day. That was just a little taster of it but it’s definitely something that I want to aim towards.”

Leaving Hibs has been difficult for Steven since he joined them on 2000 from Hutchison Vale Boys Club and then returned in 2017. He made 243 appearances for the Hibees before the abrupt end to the 2019-2020 season.

“They have been great to me. It was more the ending and the way that it occurred with the lockdown and not really knowing that it was going to end. It would have been nice to have played at Easter Road the last couple times and made a proper goodbye if you like. It is what it is and we all adapt to the situation that we are in. I am now just looking forward to this now.

“I have played a fair amount of games over the years, this is my 21st year having been a professional from the age of 16 to 36 so far. I am still going, still want to play and I still have the drive to do well.”

Steven Whitaker arrived at Easter Road the season after Stevie Crawford had left but they did play against each other in the SPL during season 2002-2003. On 12th May 2001 and still only 17, he made his Hibs debut coming on for Freddie Daquin in a 1-0 at St Johnstone but it wasn’t really until he was 18 and 19 that he was a regular for the first team.

“I remember coming here when Dunfermline were in the SPL, it was always a place where I liked to come and play. There was a great atmosphere in the stadium and we will be looking to get that going again.”

During Steven’s five years at Rangers he played against Dunfermline a couple of times but his best memories from that period of his career is winning trophies. 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. He added “when you finish up it is definitely a time that is fond in my memory.”

His coaching role will be in addition to that of Stevie Crawford, Jason Dair and Greg Shields. The new man said:-

“There will be plenty work to go around I’m sure. We will all come together, we are a team at the end of the day, staff and players so regardless of what I am doing from day today, we are all trying to aim towards the same outcome. These guys have coached longer than me, I will be learning from them at the same time as hopefully I have the experience of having played a lot of games to have a good say and help them along the way as well.”

Steven has been keeping himself fit during the lockdown doing runs, trying to get touches of the ball in the garden with his seven-year-old son who has already attracted the notice of Celtic and Hibs.

“I bought a bike and I am trying to keep on top of everything just to put myself in a good position when pre-season starts. It has been a long time and I’m only used to between four and six weeks off in the summer. To have this amount of time off is not normal but we just need to try and adapt and put ourselves into the best position we can once the season comes round again.”

Initially a midfielder transformed into a right back Steven expects to be back playing a defensive midfield role at Dunfermline.

“Stevie has spoken to me and when I was playing at Hibs I was playing in a central midfield role protecting the back four. I was doing well in the Hibs team up until getting sent off in the last game!

“I had a good run of games and felt like I was competing well. It is a position that I know well and quite enjoy at this stage where I am. Hopefully I can control things tactically and have a big say in where players are. Hopefully it will all fall into place.”

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