New signing Anthony Stewart insists he will bring clean sheets and a defensive ‘edge’ to Aberdeen.
Centre-back Stewart has joined the Dons on a two-year contract from League One Wycombe Wanderers.
Aberdeen’s leaky defence registered just six clean sheets in 47 games in all competitions last season.
Experienced defender Stewart insists he has joined the Dons to help change that.
The 29-year-old stopper jetted out to Spain for the Reds’ week-long warm weather training camp on the Costa Blanca.
He said: “I love defending. I embrace defending and hopefully I’ll bring plenty of clean-sheets.
“Defending is what I do first and foremost and hopefully I can bring that edge to the team.”
New signings join Dons in Spain
Stewart went through his first training session with the Dons at the squad’s Spanish base.
Goalkeeper Kelle Roos has also joined the squad in Spain, having signed a two-year contract after leaving Derby County.
Striker Bojan Miovski, a £535,000 signing from MTK Budapest, is today set to undergo his medical with Aberdeen in Spain.
Albanian international Ylber Ramadani’s Visa has been processed and he is also set to join the Dons in Spain in the next couple of days.
Why Stewart moved to Aberdeen
His final performance for Wycombe was in the 2-0 Championship play-off final loss to Sunderland at Wembley on May 21.
Stewart insists a journey to the Granite City to look around Cormack Park as talks progressed swung a move to Aberdeen for him.
He aims to repay their faith in the new season.
He said: “Aberdeen came in three weeks ago and we were negotiating, speaking and the vibe I felt was pretty warming.
“When I came up and had a look, there was pretty much no going back. It’s great to join the club.
“I did think where the interest had come from.
“I was very taken aback by it all when I met the directors and the gaffer. I just felt as though everything was good. I thought I’m just going to go with my heart and made the decision.
“It’s amazing when you feel wanted by a club. That’s all you want.
“I want to repay that wanted feeling with hard work.”
Two play-off finals at Wembley
Stewart has experienced the highs and lows of play-off finals at Wembley. He has won one and lost one.
The defender was man of the match as Wycombe Wanders beat Oxford 2-1 in the 2020 play-off final to earn promotion to League One.
He said: “Those sort of games are one-off games. Not everyone gets to experience a play-off final.
“To say I’ve done it twice, once behind closed doors and one with fans, was a great experience.
“I’m looking forward to going to the stadiums up here (in Scotland).
“I played in both of the play-off finals. In one we got promoted and the other we lost.”
Dreaming of playing at Hampden
Stewart has played at one national stadium in a final and wants to bag another.
He has experienced Hampden as a supporter – he was there to back friend Charles Dunne in a Scottish Cup final when he played for Motherwell.
Aberdeen had been linked with St Mirren defender Dunne during the transfer window.
Now Stewart wants to taste Hampden as a player with Aberdeen.
He said: “I’ve been to Hampden Park once when I went to Celtic against Motherwell in a final.
“My friend Charles Dunne played for Motherwell.
“He’s a good mate of mine, so I flew up to watch him at the end of the season.
“I got a feel for the atmosphere then and hopefully I can grace the grass.”
Keen to try something different after Charles Dunne’s advice
After more than a decade at Wycombe Wanderers, the defender decided to try something different.
He admits Dunne played a key role in the switch to Pittodrie.
Stewart said: “Charles Dunne played a big part in me moving here. He’s been up here for years so I spoke to him.
“I spoke to people who are friends, but ultimately it was a move for myself.
“I’ve been keen to try something different. I didn’t want to go my whole career staying at the same place.
“Change is a good thing sometimes and I’m looking forward to that.”
A new challenge in Scotland
Wycombe supporters were gutted at confirmation the fans; favourite would be leaving the club for Aberdeen.
He said: “There was a lot of mixed emotions leaving Wycombe.
“They gave me the opportunity to be the person I am now.
“Ultimately for myself, I could have maybe stayed there and continued riding the wave.
“But I wanted a new challenge and Scotland stood out for me.
“We had loads of great experiences. We got promotion from League One to the Championship, from League Two to League One. Staying in the league, too, was great. I had many experiences and I’m grateful for them all.
“But it was time for a new challenge.”