Euro goal hero Dante Polvara has vowed to repay boss Barry Robson for retaining faith in him – even when he was on the other side of the Atlantic.
And the midfielder is determined his goals against Eintracht Frankfurt and PAOK in the Europa Conference League are just the beginning of that payback.
Polvara scored to put the Reds 2-0 up against Group G leaders PAOK – before a late collapse led to a 3-2 loss.
The American also netted in the 2-1 loss to Bundesliga giants Frankfurt in Germany.
Those goals were not enough to save Aberdeen’s hopes of progressing from Group G ending as the two qualifying spots have been secured by PAOK and Eintracht Frankfurt.
Aberdeen and HJK Helsinki will now battle it out to finish third.
The Dons face the Finnish champions in frozen Helsinki on Thursday.
American Polvara has been revitalised under Robson having admitted to struggling under former Dons boss Jim Goodwin.
To the extent the 23-year-old found it mentally tough as his Aberdeen career seemed to be spiralling “out of control”.
Now he is thriving under Robson who made a further show of faith by signing the New York-born midfielder on an extended contract until summer 2026.
Polvara said: “The manager told me that he trusts me.
“That was massive for me, knowing he has faith in me.
“The club also gave me a new long-term contract which shows both Aberdeen and the manager have faith in me and I want to repay that.
“Getting those goals in Europe is something I want to build on.
“I want to score more goals, that is a target.”
‘I was struggling at the time under the previous manager’
Robson has shown faith in Polvara in Europe this season.
Polvara was pitched in from the start against Eintracht Frankfurt, the 2022 Europa League winners, in the Group G opener.
He rose to the challenge by stunning the German giants with a superb volleyed leveller in the 22nd minute.
The midfielder also delivered a clinical finish to put the Reds 2-0 up against Group G leaders PAOK at Pittodrie.
For the midfielder the contrast between now and last season couldn’t be more stark.
He said: “I was struggling at the time under the previous manager.
“It just wasn’t working out for me and unfortunately at times like that there isn’t really much you can do.
“Sometimes it feels out of your control.
“It was tough.
“As much as it is about learning from a football perspective on staying sharp it was also tough from a mental perspective.
“I just had to push for that moment.”
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In March this year Robson sent Polvara on a five-month loan at Charleston Battery in the USL Championship in the United States.
Polvara was a key player at Charleston and helped them move to the top of the Eastern Conference table.
Signed from Georgetown University in January 2022, the midfielder struggled to make an impact under former bosses Goodwin and Stephen Glass.
Although 3,900 miles away from Pittodrie the American midfielder’s desire to be a success at Aberdeen never diminished.
To the extent he woke early to watch coverage of the Dons games, including the early 12.30pm kick-offs, despite the five hour time difference.
Now back in the Granite City he aims to “throw the kitchen sink” at the bid to be a Dons success story.
He said: “Knowing the new manager had faith in me helped when I came back.
“My loan was good and it gave me confidence.
“The manager (Robson) had told me even when I was out on loan that he wanted me back no matter what.
“That was reassuring.
“Even when I was at Charleston I was still looking for the Aberdeen results and I was up early to watch the 12.30pm games.
“I came back for pre-season to see how it would work out.
“I returned to throw the kitchen sink at it and to see what happens.”
‘I have had a taste of Europe and want more’
Aberdeen have received plaudits for their performances in the group stages of the Europa Conference League.
Aberdeen also went toe-to-toe with Eintracht Frankfurt in Germany before being edged out 2-1.
The harsh reality is that Aberdeen’s bid to progress from Group G has been extinguished.
But Polvara, who is in contention to face HJK Helsinki in Finland, has had a taste of European group stage action.
Now he wants more next season.
He said: “European football is hard with all the travelling but it is something every players wants to be part of.
“I have had a taste of it and I want more.
“We have shown in games in Europe that we are a good team.
“I’m also confident that no team will out work us.
“We also have players who have quality and can change games.”