It has been a five year wait for Marley Watkins to make his European debut.
The winger helped his former club Caley Thistle qualify for the Europa League by winning the Scottish Cup in 2015 but decided to rebuff Aberdeen’s advances and a new offer from Inverness in favour of a return to England with Barnsley.
But football has a funny way of bringing matters full circle and so it is that Watkins finds himself at Pittodrie after all and set to play in Europe for the first time tonight.
He said: “I didn’t get the chance to play in Europe for Inverness because I left just after we won the Scottish Cup.
“I wanted to go back to England and prove myself down there, so that’s why I made that decision.
“I was happy for the lads who were still at Inverness to get that chance but I didn’t have any regrets when I saw them playing in it.
“Was I jealous? No, not at all because I was happy for them getting that opportunity.
“Going to England is what I wanted to do, so you have to make your decision and you can’t live your life looking back having regrets.
“But it’s exciting now to finally get the opportunity to play European football.”
Watkins came close to joining the Dons in the summer of 2015 but the chance to play in England was one he felt he could not resist.
Despite failing to convince the then Caley Jags attacker to move to Aberdeen it is clear Dons boss Derek McInnes left a lasting impression on the player which made his second pitch last week to bring him back to Scotland from Bristol City on loan a successful one.
Watkins said: “I met the gaffer before I left Inverness for England and was really impressed with him.
“I liked what he said back then and I like the way he coaches, so it really was just wanting to go to England.
“It was between Aberdeen and Barnsley so I made the decision to go as high as possible down south.
“It’s good to get the chance to work with him now.
“I spoke to Zak Vyner about Aberdeen and he was really positive. He told me he really enjoyed it, he’s a great lad who I get on well with.
“He said it was a great club with great people, which I am seeing already so hopefully I can be a success here.
“I’ve settled in well, there is a great bunch of lads here so it has been good.”
McInnes is only part of the attraction, however. That elusive first Europa League adventure begins tonight when the Dons welcome NSI Runavik of the Faroe Islands to Pittodrie in the first qualifying round.
For Watkins and his new club qualifying for the group stages is the aim.
He said: “When Aberdeen came in for me, having Europe and the semi-finals of the Scottish Cup was a great incentive for me.
“This club is synonymous with Europe from the past as well. All round it was a good move for me.
“Playing at this level is going to be good experience, you want to get as many of those as you can in your career.
“Obviously it’s going to be a bit different this year with no fans allowed into the ground, but that’s out of our hands.
“We can only play who is in front of us as well, so you just have to focus on the game and give a good account of yourself.
“We have had a team meeting about Runavik this morning, we watched clips of them looking at their strengths and their weaknesses.
“I think the biggest thing is we have to just focus on ourselves, concentrate on how we’re going to play and take it from there.
“Hopefully if we are able to do that, we will win and get through to the next round.
“We are ready for the game coming round now and want to put on a show.”