Aberdeen have enjoyed some memorable European experiences during Derek McInnes’ time in charge but midfielder Jonny Hayes believes winning in Maribor next week would top the lot.
Defeating Rijeka 3-0 on their own patch last year – the Croatian side’s only defeat of their 2015-16 campaign – and wining 2-1 in Groningen in 2014 have been the major highlights of the Dons’ recent European excursions.
This is Aberdeen’s third successive Europa League campaign and they are yet to get past the third qualifying round following defeats by Real Sociedad and Kairat Almaty.
But Hayes’ late equaliser at Pittodrie on Thursday means their qualifier against Maribor is in the balance after a 1-1 draw in the first leg.
The Slovenians possess a crucial away goal thanks to a clinical finish from 37-year-old Milivoje Novakovic but Hayes feels the Dons can make it a night to remember in Maribor on Thursday.
He said: “Rijeka and Groningen were in the second round of qualifying and this is the next round, so it’ll top anything we’ve done before.
“I think we’ve shown we can adapt. We didn’t sit back, we went and attacked.
“I’ve got full faith in the manager. He sets up whatever way will suit the players and he’s proved in previous European games that he seems to have the knack for getting the tactics right.
“Whatever he says, whatever his instructions are, we go and carry them out. We were fully confident going into the first leg.
“Maribor sat in for long periods and tried to hit us on the counter and it reminded me a little bit of ourselves when we sometimes sit in.
“They executed it quite well and got a good result. We’ll go over there next week needing to score, whether that be in the first minute or the 90th minute.”
One Aberdeen player who has experienced Maribor’s Ljudski Stadium before is Dons attacker Adam Rooney, who set up Hayes’ equaliser on Thursday.
Rooney faced Maribor as a Birmingham player in their 2011 Europa League campaign, scoring the winner in a 1-0 win at St Andrews and was named as a substitute for the match in Slovenia, which the Blues won 2-1.
Hayes added: “Does he still talk about Birmingham? I didn’t know he played for them, even though he’s got photos of himself playing for them all over his house, I just thought he was a sub.
“If Adam’s played there before he’ll know a bit about them.
“We were told that Rijeka was intimidating and we were told that Groningen was intimidating and it wasn’t.
“We can’t affect how many supporters turn up or the atmosphere at games, all we can do is do our job.
“We know what our job is and that’s to get a goal.”