Alan Stubbs says he didn’t rescue Scott Allan, but he certainly played a part in saving him.
Allan, a young midfielder with a precocious playmaking gift, was in danger of wasting his talent as a move to West Brom from Dundee United turned sour.
He wasn’t controlling his diet or his diabetes properly, his weight and fitness were fluctuating as a result, and England didn’t see the best of the Rangers fan who grew up watching Paul Gascoigne at Ibrox.
Stubbs, in his first year as a manager, took him to Hibernian in 2014, guided him, revitalised him and turned him into the Scottish PFA Championship Player of the Year.
Allan’s form won him a move to Celtic, but he and his mentor are now together again at New York Stadium after the 24-year-old agreed to leave Celtic Park to join Rotherham United on a season-long loan deal.
“I have helped him,” Stubbs told The Star. “I haven’t rescued him. The rescuing has to come from him. It’s okay me telling someone that he has got to do something. If he doesn’t want to do it, he won’t do it.”
The Millers manager wasn’t talking about physical stature when he added: “He thought he had made it already when he went to West Brom and then suddenly realised that he was probably one of the smallest players in the squad.
“He was going there, with a big fee, and when he got there he probably thought: ‘There’s a lot more players better than me here.’ Suddenly it hits home. It takes a while and then you don’ t play and you start to lose focus. He lost his way.
“I have played a part in getting him to focus and probably believe in himself again. When you come from Scotland, there are a lot of things to consider. I had a young lad at Everton, Matthew Kennedy, who we signed from Scotland and it took us 18 months to get his diet right.
“Their diet is different, they do live life differently. There is a lot of fast food as part of their staple diet, which is the wrong way. It took us a while with Matthew and it might have been the same with Scott.”
Allan is a different, more mature character these days, totally in control of his condition and a well-respected ambassador of diabetes charities.
His game-time at Celtic was limited last season but the Scottish under-21 international has a glowing reputation north of the border built on the 45 games in which he featured under Stubbs.
He is in contention to play - along with another player signed this week, Jon Taylor - when Rotherham’s new boss takes charge of his first game in the English Championship tomorrow, with the Millers opening their campaign at home to Wolves.
“He is a very talented player,” Stubbs said. “He is different. He will take the ball in very difficult situations. On some days you’ll see him and say ‘wow, he is a really good player’ and on other days it may not come off.
“The most important thing is that he has got really, really, good ability, and I think he has got his best years ahead of him.”
Stubbs forges bonds within his squad which don’t break when individuals leave.
“I have always kept in contact with Scott, because I like to get on with all my players,” he said. “I am not just the manager. I want to be someone they can phone at any time of the day, as long as it is not one or two in the morning. I certainly won’t be getting out of bed then, unless they are in trouble!
“As a result of that, he has always rung me when he has wanted someone to talk to for advice, and I just feel that’s me being normal. I suppose he has respected that. I texted him the other week to see how things were going, not about him coming here, and then it seemed to happen very quickly.
“He went and had a conversation with Brendan (Celtic boss Rodgers). They said they’d allow him out on loan and then Scotty was pestering me to bring him here. I was delighted.
“If you ask him why he has come here, I would probably have a big part to play in that. I am looking forward to seeing him. He can do well in this division. He has ability. It’s how he puts that into practice now.”
Allan says he can’t wait to prove his true worth after heading south for the second time in his career
The unhealthy lifestyle has gone. He no longer takes liberties with his illness. The wrong food is consigned to the bin.
A certain manager helped him to rediscover his appetite for the game.
Meanwhile,the Millers have confirmed they have parted company with head of recruitment Gee Evans - brother of former manager Steve - after four seasons.