Caley Thistle defender Kevin McNaughton is relishing his first visit to Pittodrie since leaving Aberdeen nearly 11 years ago when he faces his former club with Inverness tonight.
McNaughton made 205 appearances for the Dons over six years after coming through the youth ranks, prior to leaving on a free transfer to Cardiff City in 2006.
After spending a decade in English football, which also included spells with Bolton Wanderers and Wigan Athletic, McNaughton returned to Scottish football with Caley Jags last summer but missed the 1-1 draw against the Reds at Pittodrie in September with a long-term Achilles injury.
The 34-year-old returned to action as a half-time substitute in Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Kilmarnock, and is eager to face his former club which he still holds in high regard.
Dundee-born McNaughton said: “It will be my first visit back – I never even got the chance to watch a match. I went back once to visit a friend in Aberdeen but I never actually got back to the stadium.
“I came through the ranks there and there’s still quite a lot of staff there, not as many players though. I think Andrew Considine is probably the only one I know from coming through the ranks just as I was leaving.
“It will be strange. I’ll see a couple of friendly faces but a lot has changed since I left. Who knows what sort of reception I’ll get. I always got on well with the supporters at Aberdeen. I had a half-decent start to my career there, and I didn’t leave on bad terms. It was a case of my contract coming up and I felt like I needed a fresh challenge, so I went down south.
“It was a bit of a cross-roads in my career, so I took the decision to move on. I had played about six full seasons there.
“I kept getting told I needed to get a few hundred games under my belt -then I got a couple of hundred games under my belt. I had to make a decision then, and I opted to go south. But there were no hard feelings between myself and the football club. I’ve always said since I left it’s a great club.
“I spoke to Joe Lewis, who was my team-mate at Cardiff, in the summer and he was asking what sort of a club it was. I said he’d love it – I think it influenced his decision a little bit.”
McNaughton was thrilled to make his first appearance in nearly eight months at the weekend, having been sidelined since with his injury which he picked up in just the second league match of the season in a 3-2 defeat by Ross County in August.
With only eight matches left, McNaughton is ready to play his part in helping Caley Jags move off the bottom of the table and he added: “I blew off a few cobwebs,but it was great to get on the pitch. I’ve been itching to play and I’ve been fit to play for the last couple of weeks now.
“The team has been doing all right, so it’s been difficult to get back in, but when you do get the opportunity you’ve got to try and take it, which I’ve tried to do at the weekend.
“Fingers crossed I can get myself back involved again at Aberdeen.”