He played for Hibernian, Celtic, AS Monaco, Everton and Fulham in a 19-year career. Collins also represented Scotland 58 times, scoring in the opening match of the 1998 FIFA World Cup against Brazil.
He started his coaching career as manager of Hibernian, winning the 2007 Scottish League Cup Final, but resigned later that year. He then had a brief spell as manager of Charleroi in 2009. Collins was appointed director of football at Livingston in February 2012, but resigned a year later. He then assisted Ronny Deila at Celtic for two years. Collins has also worked in media coverage of football.
As a youngster, Collins played both rugby union and football before turning his attention entirely to football. At youth level, Collins played for Hutchison Vale between 1980 and 1984, captaining the side for four years, before signing as a professional with Hibernian. Collins played for six seasons with the club, appearing 195 times and scoring 21 goals.
Collins signed for Celtic in 1990, becoming their first million pound player. He generally played on the left side of midfield, scoring 47 goals in 217 appearances. In April 1994, Collins became the first professional footballer using Predator boots to score a goal in a top-level match. He scored the opening goal in a 1–1 draw at Ibrox against Rangers, direct from a free-kick on the edge of the penalty box. During his time at Celtic, he won only one trophy; the 1995 Scottish Cup.
Collins moved to AS Monaco in the summer of 1996 on a free transfer under the Bosman ruling. Celtic, under the direction of Fergus McCann, attempted to obtain compensation for the loss of Collins. McCann argued that the Bosman ruling did not apply to this case because AS Monaco are based in the principality of Monaco and are outside of European Union jurisdiction. The compensation claim was not successful.
Collins won the French championship in 1997 with Monaco, who then reached the semi-final of the 1998 UEFA Champions League, defeating Manchester United in the quarter-final.
Collins moved to Everton in the summer of 1998 for £2 million. He captained Everton before submitting a transfer request in 2000.
Collins then joined Fulham, where he linked up with Jean Tigana, who had been his manager at Monaco. Collins helped Fulham gain promotion to the Premier League in 2001. He retired in 2003, having not played regularly during the 2002–03 season. Coventry City offered to sign Collins on loan, but this offer was refused by Fulham because it did not cover his wages fully.
In February 2014, Collins registered as a player with Gala Fairydean Rovers, a club who he had been ambassador for.
Collins won 58 caps and scored 12 goals for Scotland. He played for his country at Euro 1996 and the 1998 World Cup. Collins scored a goal in the opening match of that World Cup, with a penalty kick against Brazil. He retired from international football after the aggregate defeat in the UEFA Euro 2000 qualifying play-offs by England in November 1999.
After retiring from club football in 2003, Collins spent time in Monaco with his family, while also obtaining coaching qualifications including the UEFA Pro Licence.
On 31 October 2006, Collins was appointed as manager of Hibernian. Collins led Hibernian to their first national trophy in over 15 years, when they defeated Kilmarnock 5–1 in the 2007 Scottish League Cup Final. Despite the League Cup victory, Collins had a major dispute with his players just weeks later. A delegation of players met chairman Rod Petrie, where they complained about his training methods and match tactics. The players soon backed down and captain Rob Jones offered a public apology to Collins on their behalf.
On 20 December 2007, Collins resigned from Hibernian with immediate effect, citing a disagreement with the Hibs board about the budget to bring in new players. His decision was taken just one day after the club opened new training facilities. Collins had also said in October 2007 that he had "no intention" of breaking his contract with Hibs, after turning down a possibility of becoming Queens Park Rangers manager.
Lawrie Sanchez was sacked by Fulham the next day, which led to reports that Collins might move there. Collins distanced himself from this speculation, and Roy Hodgson was appointed by Fulham a week later. Collins was interviewed by West Ham United in September 2008.
On 15 December 2008, Collins was appointed as the manager of Belgian club Charleroi. Collins was reunited with former Hibs striker Abdessalam Benjelloun, but Benjelloun was almost immediately returned to Hibs before being loaned to another Belgian club, Roeselare. Collins announced his departure from Charleroi after the club secured their First Division status near the end of the season.
Collins was appointed director of football by Livingston in February 2012. He agreed to play for his old amateur club Gala Rovers in a friendly against a Livingston XI on 25 July 2012. He left the club on 28 February 2013, after Collins disagreed with a decision to remove Gareth Evans from first team coaching.
In June 2014, Collins was appointed to the position of assistant manager at Celtic. He left the club at the end of the 2015–16 season, at the same time as Deila.
Collins has appeared on the Sky Sports coverage of the UEFA Champions League and Sportscene's coverage of Scotland games. He worked for CBC Sports during their coverage of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Scores and results list Scotland's goal tally first.As of 16 May 2009
Scottish Cup: 1995
Ligue 1: 1997
Scottish League Cup: 2007
Scotland national football team roll of honour : 1998