Euro goal hero Jamie McGrath insists his sensational free-kick against PAOK is the beginning of payback for boss Barry Robson’s faith in him.
Republic of Ireland international McGrath curled in a 30-yard strike to make it 2-2 against the Europa Conference League Group G leaders.
The 27-year-old revealed he joked with team-mate Jonny Hayes that he “had nothing to lose” so he decided to “crack it”.
Midfielder McGrath’s audacious free-kick ended PAOK’s 100% record and took his goal tally to five for the season.
McGrath was signed by Robson on a two-year deal in late August after he opted to terminate his contract at English League One side Wigan Athletic.
The midfielder turned down the opportunity to play in the United States and India to sign for Aberdeen.
Robson pitched McGrath in for his debut two days later and he has been a regular first team starter ever since.
McGrath said: “To come in and start from the get-go the gaffer has shown a lot of faith in me.
“It is nice to repay a bit of that faith because he has been brilliant for me.
“I came in off not having a pre-season with a team.
“The manager has played me when I was maybe out of form.
“He has put trust in me.”
‘I have nothing to lose. I’ll just give it a crack’
McGrath silenced the PAOk fans as he bent it like Beckham with a sensational free-kick at the 28,000 capacity Toumba Stadium.
Now, after his sublime dead ball strike he hopes to take on free-kick duties permanently.
He said: “It is a while since I’ve taken a free kick.
“I was laughing, telling Jonny I have nothing to lose here – I’ll just give it a crack.
“It all worked out and I was delighted.
“I haven’t taken many as a senior player and I would need to go back to under-age levels to score a goal like that.
“It has been a few years and hopefully I’ll be on the free kicks now.”
— Football on TNT Sports (@footballontnt) November 9, 2023
Aberdeen’s counter-attack threat
The Dons face anther tough away day on Sunday as they go against Premiership leaders Celtic at Parkhead.
Aberdeen will bid to maintain their positive momentum having gone to-to-to with PAOK just five days after securing a Viaplay Cup final slot.
McGrath accepts Aberdeen might need to “suffer’ for periods without the ball at Parkhead.
However the midfielder is confident the Dons cab recreate their heroics from Greece to hit the Hoops on the break.
He said: “It (Celtic away) is going to be the same as Thursday.
“We might need to suffer a bit without the ball.
“We can do that and we are dangerous on the counter-attack.
“You saw Duk, he was brilliant in Greece.
“He hasn’t played in a few weeks but he was excellent.
“No matter who we play against we will always get chances. “
“We trust ourselves to keep a clean sheet.
“I know we conceded two against PAOK but those boys put their bodies on the line.
“We have to go in again Celtic with the same mind set.”
Frustration at Euro points haul
Boss Barry Robson insisted the Dons gave PAOK “a bloody nose” in Thessaloniki.
German Bundesliga giants Eintracht Frankfurt, the 2022 Europa League winners, had already lost in the groups to PAOK in Greece.
However the draw with the Greek Super League side was not enough to prevent Aberdeen’s hopes of qualification from ending.
PAOK and Eintracht Frankfurt both sealed their progression from the groups on Thursday.
McGrath said: “From our first European game we have been on it.
“Against BK Hacken, we should maybe have got through.
“Bar (Ibrahim) Sadiq scoring a couple of goals we were the better team in that tie.
“We gave another good account of ourselves against PAOK and it is very frustrating to be in the position we are in.
“We should have more points on the board, especially being 2-0 up against PAOK at home.”
Six Euro points still to play for
Aberdeen have still to face HJK Helsinki in Finland before closing the group with a home clash against Eintracht Frankfurt.
McGrath insists they are far from dead rubbers.
He said; “We still have six points to play for and we will fight for them.
“You saw the fans in Greece, they were class and we gave them something to shout about.
“We will put in the same effort for the last two European games as well.”