Chris Antoniazzi wants to follow the examples of Michael Rose and Lawrence Shankland to reboot his football career.
Like Rose and Shankland in years past, midfielder Antoniazzi was let go by Aberdeen this summer after spending the majority of his young career with the club.
When Rose was let go in 2016, he dropped down to the Championship with Ayr United.
He later was part of their promotion-winning team after they had been relegated to League 1. He has just been promoted to the English Championship with Coventry City.
Shankland also joined Ayr and plundered goals for fun, netting 62 in 73 games after failing to find the net for the Dons. His goals fired Dundee United to the Championship title this season and earned him Scotland caps.
Antoniazzi, who turned 20 in May, is grateful to have two examples close to home as he looks to rebuild his career.
He said: “There’s Mikey Rose and Lawrence Shankland, role models who’ve left Aberdeen and gone on to do really good things. That’s the golden ticket, to maybe drop down a league or two, work hard and get games to open a new avenue for you.
“They were at Aberdeen and were at the stage I’m at now. The lower leagues in Scotland are set up so well for young players hungry for more. You can step out of reserve football and if you’re a good player, you can do well.
“I thought I might not be offered something. I wasn’t 100% sure I’d get a contract.
“I kept quite grounded and knew I had to think of other options. But you’re still getting told no from someone, no matter if you thought it was coming or not.
“It’s tough to hear at the time but you just have to look at it as an opportunity to bounce back in your career.”
He cites a trip to Dubai when he was just 16 as a proud highlight, rubbing shoulders with Jonny Hayes, Kenny McLean and Ryan Jack.
“Confidence is the main thing,” added Antoniazzi, on what he took from those players. “Jonny was playing left-wing and I was shadowing him. He was telling me how confident I should be in myself. ‘Who cares if you lose the ball? Who cares if you beat someone once and don’t do it again?’ You keep trying and that’s all that matters.”
Antoniazzi had a loan spell with Cove Rangers early in the season, netting on his debut in the Betfred Cup win over Raith Rovers.
However, a broken foot suffered in a Dons reserve game against St Johnstone curtailed that and saw him out until March.
He is grateful for the opportunity afforded to him by Cove and, without injury, feels he could have made an even greater impact.
Antoniazzi added: “I loved it. The football was played the way it should be, getting the ball down and pass, playing through the thirds. I have a league winner’s medal and no one can take that away from me. Even though it may have been 10 or 11 games, I still contributed.”