Declan Gallagher is testament to what can be achieved if you work hard enough and remain dedicated.
Recognition has come late in the 30-year-old’s career, having made his international debut just seven months ago.
In that respect he shares much with Andy Considine, his future team-mate at Aberdeen, who like him has refused to give up on his dream of representing his country.
Their careers have taken very different paths, but both have seen their work ethic recognised later in their careers.
Gallagher will become the second new face at Pittodrie behind Celtic captain Scott Brown and it is clear Dons boss Stephen Glass is certainly setting the bar high with his early transfer business at the club.
Glass has spoken of his desire to add winners to his squad. Brown’s track record speaks for itself following a trophy-laden career at Celtic Park.
Gallagher may not boast the haul of trophies the incoming Dons player-coach does, but when it comes to resolve and desire the Motherwell defender’s determination to overcome personal challenges have been impressive.
A product of Celtic’s youth system, Gallagher had a spell on loan at Stranraer in the 2010-11 season before joining Clyde after his release by the Hoops in the August 2011.
His displays for the Bully Wee led to him being offered a deal by SPL newcomers Dundee and he quickly established himself in the heart of the Dark Blues defence.
Following the club’s relegation, he played every minute for Dundee as they won promotion back to the top flight in 2014, before opting to leave Dens Park for Livingston.
A member of Livi’s Challenge Cup winning side of 2015, Gallagher’s career was put on hold following a conviction for an assault on the evening of a wedding anniversary party at a hotel in Blantyre two years earlier.
He remained a Livingston player while appealing his conviction, but was ordered back to prison when it was dismissed in February 2016.
Some would have given up on their dream of a football career, but, following his release in January 2017, he rejoined Livi before helping the club win promotion from League One.
He continued his upwards trajectory in the 2017-18 campaign when he helped Livi win a second consecutive promotion to the Premiership via the playoffs.
Having established himself in the Premiership, Gallagher’s impressive displays for Livingston led to him signing a pre-contract agreement with Motherwell in April 2019 and his progress continued at Fir Park, where he was named captain at the beginning of this season following the departure of Peter Hartley.
It is with the Steelmen where his displays have helped catch the eye of national team boss Steve Clarke and, having earned his first call-up in October 2019, he made his debut in a 2-1 win in Cyprus a month later.
Clearly that dedication has not gone unnoticed within the Scotland camp as he has gone on to make seven appearances for his country.
National team coach Steven Reid said: “He has rebuilt his career if you like and you have to give him some credit for that as well. He had to go away, take a look at himself, his lifestyle and he has been given a second chance.
“These opportunities don’t come around too often for him so it is great that he is involved.”
As his experience has grown so too has interest in his services.
Gallagher, perhaps mindful of his need to be playing regularly to give him the best possible chance of making Clarke’s Scotland squad for the European Championship finals next month, has largely kept his cards close to his chest.
He said: “I have been in this situation many times, I was in it at Livingston, I was in it at Dundee. It’s just transfer talk and I have just concentrated on Motherwell.
“All the talk about me moving away, I have put to the back of my head, because it’s not important. I know that something will be done at the end of the season, whether it’s here or elsewhere.
“We just have to concentrate on the park rather than off the park. I have to be fully focused on Motherwell and making sure I am doing the right things by the club, because they have done the right things by me.
“Whatever happens in my contract talks will happen. I will leave that down to my agents and clubs to speak about, right now I am just focused on football.”
Gallagher was left out of the World Cup qualifiers in March as he had just recovered from a hamstring injury, but, having established himself back in the Well line-up, he has been focused on a strong finish to the campaign.
Speaking before the weekend win against Kilmarnock, Gallagher said: “Obviously when I had the talk with Steve Clarke in the last camp, he told me my minutes were limited because I hadn’t had many games because I was just back from injury, so I had to be playing games to get back in the team.
“That was my main focus coming back here, and securing safety for Motherwell as well. I’m happy with how things are going and trying to keep pushing in these last three games to push for that Euros place.
“I didn’t need any more motivation than to keep Motherwell up, as captain of the club that was my main focus. But you have that added bonus of the Euros being round the corner and you know you are in contention. Obviously you want to keep impressing.”
Time will tell whether Gallagher has done enough to keep his place in the Scotland squad for the Euros, but it is clear a move to Pittodrie and with the chance to play in Europe this summer with the Dons will only enhance his reputation further.
⚽️ Could Dylan McGeouch keep the incoming Scott Brown out of the @AberdeenFC team?
🔴 Is Connor McLennan's future at right-back?
— EveningExpress Sport (@ee_sport) May 4, 2021