I’ll lay my cards on the table early doors. I loved Alan Hutton at Rangers. I don’t know, even now there is something that gets the hairs on the back of my neck standing up when I see Lee Wallace or James Tavernier running from deep in full flight and getting to the by-line. More-so than a winger skinning a full back, which is weird. It is the one thing in the professional game that reminds me of amateur football – full backs going on an adventure!
Alan Hutton was one of a new breed of attacking full backs when he first broke into the Rangers first team in 2002 albeit just making the one appearance at the tender age of 18. He arrived in the Rangers youth set up two years previously but had been a striker, at 6ft 1inch and powerfully built he wasn’t a stereotypical full back. Everything he did was with full commitment and purpose in both attack and defence. His pace allowing him to make the odd mistake if he had the time to repair the damage! It was only a surprise he didn’t score more than his four goals for Rangers given his appetite for attack.
Hutton has had a few bad injuries in his time, the first of which was a leg break in early 2005 just as he was beginning to settle into the first team. Depending on the formation or personnel being deployed Hutton found himself playing second fiddle to Fernando Ricksen (and even Maurice Ross) until 2005/06 when Ricksen moved predominantly into midfield and he established himself as the best right back at the club.
Over the next couple of seasons, he became a confident, consistent marauding full back and was one of the few Scots that benefitted under Paul Le Guen, despite it being a poor season for the club Hutton played well and earned an international call up. Making his debut V Austria in May 2007. He remained a fixture of the international team even when he struggled for club games at periods during his career until his international retirement in November 2016.
He started the 2007/08 season on form and grabbed the attention of a few high-profile English sides. An excellent Champions League, especially against Manchester United, sealing the deal for Tottenham Hotspur to make a move paying between £5-9 million for his services in the January 2008 transfer window depending on where you read. Although he missed out on the UEFA Cup Final run with Rangers he had earned his move during the Champions League showing that he could compete at that level. His contribution is often forgotten in the European adventure because he wasn’t involved in the latter stages.
Injury and change of managers affected his early Spurs career and he nearly left the club for Sunderland after a loan spell but in 2010/11 he discovered his best form under Harry Redknapp with a run to the Champions League Quarter Finals. Hutton’s attacking style suiting Spurs and the likes of Gareth Bale in front of him. Hutton overlapping allowed Bale to cut in on his favoured left foot to good effect on more than one occasion.
MORE RANGERS STORIES
Just when he’d really hit his stride he succumbed to injury once more (this time his knee) in April 2011 and when he returned Kyle Walker had progressed into the first team and the right back slot, Hutton was never going to be able to displace an upgrade in his own mould.
He left for Aston Villa and he remains there to this day, again with various loan spells in between proving he really is the Marmite full-back. You either love him or hate him!