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Aberdeen winger Jonny Hayes admits next season may be his last before retiring

Aberdeen's Jonny Hayes has a shot on goal against St Johnstone.
Aberdeen's Jonny Hayes has a shot on goal against St Johnstone.

Aberdeen winger Jonny Hayes admits next season may be his last before retiring from professional football.

The Republic of Ireland international has signed a one-year extension to remain with the Dons until the end of the 2022-23 season.

As part of his new deal, Hayes will make his first steps into coaching with the club’s youth academy.

The former Celtic and Caley Thistle player, who turns 35 in July, has said it could be the last contract he signs before hanging up his boots.

Aberdeen’s Jonny Hayes celebrates scoring against Ross County.

He told Red TV: “I have always had it in my head that I don’t want to play when I’m not physically at the top of my game.

“I don’t want to be struggling to train on a Monday or Tuesday.

“Obviously the motivation and enthusiasm would never go away.

“But I don’t want to get to the stage where I can’t physically keep up.

“I think I will probably play one more year knowing that.

“I think I have managed to stay physically fit enough for my age and I think after another year we will take it as it comes.

“The idea I have in my head is to play one more year and then retire.

“If I can retire at Aberdeen then that will obviously make me happy.”

Hayes, meanwhile, believes Scott Brown made a noticeable impact during his short spell at Pittodrie.

Brown joined the Dons from Celtic last summer on a two-year deal as a player-coach under former Aberdeen boss Stephen Glass.

But with coaching time set to be limited under new boss Jim Goodwin, Brown’s departure was confirmed earlier this week with eight games of the season remaining.

Jonny Hayes with Scott Brown who he also teamed up with at Celtic.

Hayes says the professionalism shown by his former Hoops teammate Brown, who won 22 trophies during his time at Celtic, will have had a positive impact on the younger members of the Aberdeen squad.

He said: “He is my mate but he is still the best professional I have come across in terms of the minute he steps on the pitch he trains and plays every day like it is his last.

“That is probably something I have picked up a little bit from him.

“I know the younger lads have picked that up as you see them talking about him.

“You might have played three games in a week and you come in on the Monday and think you may be getting a nice relaxing warm-up but he is there 100 miles per hour and setting the standards.

“The days he didn’t train were maybe a relief to some people.

“He has always been like that.

“He has only been here a short space of time but people will have picked up on how he has carried himself over the last 10, 12, 15 years.

“That can only be a good thing.

“I have certainly learnt an awful lot from him over the last five years or so.

“I know how easy good habits can be picked up and he has plenty of them.”

Hayes is in his second spell with the club, having returned from a three-year spell at Celtic in 2020.

He signed for Craig Brown’s Dons from Inverness Caley Thistle in 2012 before going on to win the League Cup under Derek McInnes in 2014.

He has scored 35 goals in 284 appearances for Aberdeen.

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