Can Hibs Solve The Islam Feruz Enigma?


It’s no secret that Chelsea have a huge stockpile of youngsters that they send out on loan each and every summer. This seasons batch currently sits at thirty plus.

You can usually deduce how well thought of a player is and how developed they are by the club they’ve been loaned out too.

Some players get the chance to shine in the English Premier League, while others have a stint in the English Championship. Some end up in Serie A, Ligue 1 or the Bundesliga.

Chelsea’s strong relationship with Vitesse Arnhem has meant that quite a few of their talented group ends up spending a season or two in the Netherlands.

You then get the odd ones who just seem to be placed anywhere, as if they couldn’t get rid of them quick enough.

That seems to be the case with Islam Feruz. Who signed for Scottish Championship side Hibs before the transfer window shut last week.

The nineteen year old has undoubted talent but quite a few big question marks hang over his head.

I first became aware of Feruz back in 2009, when at just fourteen he played in the Tommy Burns memorial match at Celtic Park. The kid looked superb; a bundle of energy, quick and had good close control.

It transpired that the late Tommy Burns had done a lot to convince the UK government to allow Feruz and his family to stay in Scotland and not get deported back to war-torn Somalia.

So it seemed a certainty that Feruz would one day, sooner rather than later, break into the Hoops first team. But alas he chose not to sign a professional deal with the Glasgow side and instead joined Chelsea when he was just sixteen, Celtic received just £300k in compensation.

It looked as if Islam Feruz was a bit ungrateful for all Celtic had done for him but in fairness to the young forward, football is his career and the Premier League is seen as the ultimate destination.

Feruz seemed to do ok at Stamford Bridge with the club’s youth teams, he was a creative talent who had an eye for goal.

But his career has always been blighted with off-field troubles.

He has appeared in court charged with dangerous driving, he has made various ill thought-out social media outbursts and many have criticised his attitude and his over inflated ego.

Then there is his Scotland career.

A ruling in 2009 that allowed British passport holders to represent any of the home nations, as long as they had been in that country’s education for five years, meant that Feruz could represent Scotland.

He started in the under-16s and has since graduated to the under-21s. He put in many an impressive showing throughout those appearances.

But then in 2014, it was reported that Feruz no longer wanted to be considered for international duty. That was dismissed by both the SFA and Islam himself but he hasn’t represented the Scots in over a year.

He did say this recently about playing for Scotland:

“I want to play for Scotland and I’ll be honoured if I’m selected.”

Ok so lets now look at his last twelve months. 

Firstly came a loan opportunity in Russia but after just two days with Krylia Sovetov, he decided it was too much of a culture shock and he was back in London. Now the fact that Chelsea sanctioned this move in the first place should have raised alarm bells for Feruz and his advisors that not all was well at Chelsea.

He would then spend a few months in Greece with OFI Crete under the tutelage of Italian legend and notorious hot-head Gennaro Gattuso. After only three appearances with OFI, the forward found himself back at Chelsea once again.

In January 2015, he was once again loaned out. This time to English Championship outfit Blackpool. who were stuck at the bottom of the league. It seems as though Islam didn’t have the stomach for the relegation battle that lay ahead and was sent back three months early and after just two appearances by Blackpool boss Lee Clark.

Clark said this about his Chelsea loanee:

 “It’s not about your background, it’s the way you perform in training and off the field which gives you a place in the team.”

That line kind of suggests once again Feruz let himself down and believes too much in his own hype.

But the fact is this; Islam Feruz has achieved absolutely nothing in football so far. 

I would bet that his Chelsea career is all but over, even if he has a long term deal in the bag. The English champions don’t send you to a second division Russian side or to Hibs if they think you’ll be a star in their first team.

But Feruz still needs to make this loan deal at Hibs work.

The Edinburgh side have a bit of an infamous recent history with footballing bad boys.

They tried to resurrect the careers of two former Easter Road apprentices but Garry O’Connor and Derek Riordan failed to turn things around. Last I heard former Scotland international striker O’Connor was at Lowland league side Selkirk, while former Celtic man Riordan is a free agent after leaving East Fife in the summer.

Hibernian did seem to get the best out of Leigh Griffiths. The hitman may still be a bit of a liability off the park, but he has proven himself on it scoring freely for Scottish Premiership champs Celtic.

Current Hibees boss Alan Stubbs has impressed with his ability to get more from young Scots needing a second chance. Former Scottish under-21 stars Fraser Fyvie and Dylan McGeouch are hoping that the English coach can help rebuild their stalled careers.

It worked last season with the Championships player of the year Scott Allan. The twenty-three year old shone for Hibs last term, after joining from west Brom, and that has since earned the attacking midfielder a move to Celtic this summer.

The capital side boast having one of the best training centres in the country and have a history of developing young talent.

For Feruz, who is at a crossroads in his young career, he now needs to make this move count.

Because to be quite honest, if he returns to Chelsea with yet another bad report then his career may never fully recover and he could become Scotland’s answer to Freddy Adu or Cherno Samba!


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