Ryan Duncan grew up watching Aberdeen trying to reach the group stages of European football.
Now the winger is relishing his first chance to play there in the new season.
Duncan is in line to make his European debut this coming season for the Dons after helping Aberdeen secure a third-place finish in the Scottish Premiership last term.
The 19-year-old from Alford knows how important Europe is to his club and he cannot wait to sample it himself.
Duncan said: “European football is going to be great.
“We’re going to face some top teams in Europe and for people like me it’s a great test on the European stage.
“I’m absolutely buzzing about it. I used to go to European games when I was younger and there is a different buzz about the place.
“I’m really looking forward to being on the pitch this time.”
Duncan looking to improve on all fronts
Last season was Duncan’s breakthrough campaign at Pittodrie and, having established himself in the matchday squad, the teenager is looking to make a bigger impact going forward.
He said: “I loved every minute of last season. Whenever I got on the pitch I loved playing.
“I haven’t set any specific goals other than to improve on last season and be better.
“That will always be my aim. If that’s score more than two goals, then great. Beating that tally will be my first target.
“I’m definitely looking to score a few more than I did last season.
“This season I’d like to score a few more and hopefully provide a few assists as well.
“I watch back all the games and clips afterwards and I do get annoyed at myself.
“I’m still young and new to this and maybe I need to calm down a bit when I get into these areas.
“Even after training, I’ll try to do little bits extra to make myself better.”
Loan spell with Peterhead was vital in Duncan’s development
Duncan insists his loan spell with Peterhead in season 2020-21 was a vital step on his path towards making his breakthrough into the first team squad at Pittodrie.
He believes any young player offered the chance to go on loan from the Dons should jump at the opportunity.
Duncan said: “Playing men’s football every week built me up more.
“It’s a good level. Some of the players are a little bit older, but they’ve had good careers and you can see that. It helped me.
“There’s a massive difference between men’s football and youth football.
“If you are ready to go out and play men’s football then you definitely should.
“The other boys here who have done the same thing have said it helped them massively, too.”
Duncan ready to play wherever he is needed
Game time is vital for any young player and Duncan has had to show his versatility in the first team.
The attacker’s preference is to play out wide, however, he has filled in as a midfielder and just off the main striker in his first season.
Duncan has no idea if he will be asked to perform the same roles in the new campaign, but believes the experienced gained can only help him improve.
He said: “I played a few different position, but I loved every minute of it.
“It’s great when you start one game and know you are starting again the following week. It gives your confidence a boost.
“It can be difficult trying different styles and doing things you are not used to. It’s been a massive learning curve for me and it won’t do me any harm learning these things.
“I might never have to do them again, but at least I have the experience under my belt.
“I really enjoy the right wing, but I enjoy the number 10 as well. Both positions bring out different sides of me.
“As a winger, I like going at people 1v1 out wide. As a number 10, it’s harder to get on the ball – but when you do you are in a good position.
“As a number 10, sometimes you have to compete for headers when goal-kicks go long, so my height helps me.”
Searing heat of Portugal will have Dons well prepared
Duncan and his team-mates have been building up their preparation for the new season in challenging conditions out in Portugal.
With temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius, the squad has been tested to the full – but Duncan believes the preparation will stand every player in good stead for the challenges to come.
He said: It’s been a really tough three days over in the heat. We’ve had double sessions every day.
“It is really hard. The gaffer pushes you to the limit, but he does help and wants to make you a better player.
“The sessions are hard, but enjoyable. A lot of them are with the ball which helps mentally.
“To get this sort of training in before the season starts will improve me as a player and prepare me for the season coming up.
“We’re going to have a lot of midweek games so we’re going to need these sessions to prepare us.”