Darren Mackie believes European football is as vital to Aberdeen as competing for honours in Scottish football.
The former Dons striker scored arguably one of the club’s most important European goals in recent memory when his diving header sent Jimmy Calderwood’s side through to the group stages of the Uefa Cup in 2007.
Mackie’s effort was hailed as the £1million goal by his manager and remains the last time the Dons graced the group stages of the competition. The former Don knows the importance of his old club earning another shot at the tournament this summer.
He said: “To a club like Aberdeen, European football is massive. The revenue helps enormously and the fans and players love it too as they get the chance to go and represent the clubs in countries they wouldn’t normally go to and play against clubs they haven’t faced before.
“The money European football brings to a club is significant, especially in Scotland, and for a club like Aberdeen reaching the group stages of a European competition would be massive.
“The income generated allows the manager to reinvest and strengthen his team as well as give the board more money to put towards the new facilities which are being built.”
Dons boss Derek McInnes is planning for a busy summer of recruitment at Pittodrie and Mackie believes the ability to offer European football would give the manager an extra selling point in his attempts to lure new players to the club.
He said: “Aberdeen is a club on the up and while they had a disappointing result at the weekend there is still so much to play for in the last five games. Once you get a taste of Europe you want more and the club has become used to being in Europe every summer for the last five years.
“There will be players at the club who will want to be part of it again and have another crack at the Europa League in July. They will be telling the younger guys who haven’t experienced it how exciting it is and that will make them hungry for it too.
“Securing Europe gives everyone at the club a focus during the summer. Players will head off on for their break knowing they are coming back early and have to be ready to play in some important games as soon as they get back.
“Europe can also help the manager attract players to the club. Derek McInnes can already point to the training ground being built and the stadium project which is under way, but if he can also offer a chance to play in Europe it can only be positive. Any player looking at Aberdeen just now must view it as an attractive option.”
Mackie’s header, the most famous of his career, earned the Dons a place in the group stages, which they qualified from, before their remarkable run was brought to an end by Bayern Munich in 2008.
It is no surprise he regards the 2007-08 season fondly for that reason.
He said: “I’ve heard all sorts of figures mentioned about my goal but I’ll happily take £1million. There was a feeling of excitement in every European tie I played. They were all big games and the chance to experience something different was great.
“I loved all the European games I played. It was a different experience to league and cup games in Scotland and I loved going away with the club to places like Dnipro. It was great for team spirit and as a team we all loved being part of it.”