As recently as 2010 Danny Wilson looked as if he were on an ever upward trajectory. He had looked sumptuous playing for the Rangers team which won the Scottish league and many in the game saw him as the next great Scottish centre-back.
The future was clear. He would move to an English Premier League club - a Liverpool or an Arsenal rather than a Wigan or Bolton - where he would shine, he would play for the national team for a decade and he'd become the classy rock that Scotland would build their team around.
When he moved to Liverpool, those of us with an eye for history saw him as part of a grand Anfield tradition. Many a time it was said that ''Liverpool have never won the league without a Scottish player in the team''. Laughable as that may seem his move to Anfield came just a year after Liverpool had been involved in that astonishing race to the title with Manchester United. It seems a lifetime ago. Others thought him part of a glorious tradition of Scottish centre-backs at Anfield. Many harked back to the wonder years of Ron Yeats and Alan Hansen.
Along with Joe Cole he was Roy Hodgson's first signing (they joined on the same day). Five months later he made his debut for Scotland. All was going to plan.
Three Liverpool managers have now worked with him - Hodgson, Dalglish and Rodgers. He has been loaned out twice and none have given him a run of games. Indeed, he barely played for the club. The future of Scottish football reduced to a handful of substitute appearance and starts in the Europa League or Carling Cup. As the gaps between games began to yawn and as he was loaned out to Championship teams it seemed clear he needed to leave.
Wilson's contract is up in the summer so it seems that this latest loan deal to Heart of Midlothian is being done with a view to seeing him leave. Hopefully, the benefits of training against players like Suarez and Gerrard will have aided his development. Hopefully, the benefits of working with Daniel Agger will have done so as well. It is difficult, however, not to consider what would have happened if he'd stayed in Scotland (at least until last summer when he would no doubt have joined Naismith and Fleck in an exodus). He'd likely have 100 or so games under his belt and more Scotland caps.
I can't blame Wilson. It is better to dare and fail than spend the rest of one's life ''what if''. No one can blame an ambitious player for choosing a daring move. Those that do so aren't worth the time of day.
The issue is that each young Scottish player making their decision does have an impact on the wider Scottish game. The decision whether they should ''bet the ranch'' on moving to a bigger team or decided to stay where they are and get regular game time is clearly a fraught decision.
We know that bigger teams - within leagues and between teams - hoard talent and cannibalise other clubs. Rangers and Celtic used to be guilty of this as they plucked the talents of Hearts, Hibs and Aberdeen only never to play them. Derek Riordan being the best example.
Sometimes young players shine after a move - as Naismith did at Rangers and as Brown did at Celtic - but there are many like Wilson who should be pointed out as examples to help ensure players make the best possible decision for them. Many Scottish players have moved south but moved away from the potential of European football for the glitz and glamour of playing in Middlebrough. Financially it makes perfect sense. Does it from a football point of view? Possibly.
Wilson is only 21. He still has time on his side to go on to have a fine career at club and international level. He needs, however, to succeed at Hearts. Scotland doesn't produce enough defenders of his quality for him to fail.