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Aberdeen goalkeeper Joe Lewis targeting extended run in European competition

Aberdeen goalkeeper Joe Lewis.
Aberdeen goalkeeper Joe Lewis.

European nights at Pittodrie have always held something of a special place in the hearts of most Aberdeen fans.

Playing under the lights in the Granite City, watching their side test themselves against sides from across the continent, some memorable nights have have been witnessed.

That feeling is not lost on Joe Lewis.

The Aberdeen stalwart is another who relishes these occasions. The Dons take a 3-2 lead in their Europa Conference League tie against Breidablik into the return leg at home tonight.

Victory would earn them a play-off game against either AEL Limassol or Qarabag and another European home tie.

“It is difficult to say (what makes it special),” said Lewis. “The light nights and warmer weather. The crowds especially seem to be louder and there is a lot more there. What is at stake as well.

“We know what is at stake in these games and the prize to get into group stage of European football is brilliant for Aberdeen Football Club that has such a rich history in Europe.

“A combination of all that makes it a good feeling.

Joe Lewis.

“The longer we can go in Europe the better. The season always starts off with a bang with two games a week.

“The longer you progress in Europe the bigger, the demand is physically on the players. However, we feel we are up to it and have a strong squad this season.

“There is no reason why we cannot progress and hopefully next Thursday we’ll be looking at another European tie.”

Group stage football has long been a target for the Dons, but has consistently eluded them. The third qualifying round of the Europa League was a familiar stumbling block for Aberdeen under Derek McInnes.

The team will have an increased backing tomorrow night as they look to take a step closer to realising that ambition.

Lewis said: “It is big for the football club. However, we are not going to get ahead of ourselves. We are one goal ahead and need to make sure we perform well.

“Of course the goal is to get to the groups and from there you reassess and think what we can do from there. We are looking to put in a strong performance, but will not get too carried away.

“We have a one-goal advantage and have seen that they can hurt us if given the time and space to do that. They have some good players so we have to make sure we are fully focused.”

Lewis, who was Aberdeen skipper after the departure of Graeme Shinnie, will share the role this season following the arrival of Scott Brown.

Goalkeeper Lewis was named club captain by manager Stephen Glass, with Brown being given the title of team captain.

Aberdeen team captain Scott Brown

“We’ve got a really good dynamic,” said Lewis. “We’ve brought in a few leaders and certainly a physical presence on the pitch, but also vocal and Brown is both of them.

“He’s fantastic, he’s a great leader on and off the pitch. He’s an absolute joy to have at the football club and we’re really enjoying having him.

“The impact he’s made, I think it’s really helped the football club. Hopefully we continue that and we can spread that and everybody can learn from him and the career he’s had. We’ve also brought in Dec (Declan Gallagher), JET (Jay Emmanuel-Thomas), Christian (Ramirez) – all lads with good experience and with old heads.

“The likes of Andy (Considine) and myself are experienced boys as well. We’ve got plenty of experience and leadership this season, which is very pleasing.”

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