Scott Boyd believes the Staggies’ Scottish Cup run of 2010 laid the foundations for the club’s rise to the Premiership.
Defender Boyd netted the winner in the quarter-final replay at home to Hibernian, which set up County’s famous 2-0 victory over Celtic at Hampden Park.
Although Derek Adams’s side went down 3-0 to Dundee United in the final in front of 17,000 Staggies supporters, Boyd feels the run put the Dingwall club on the map.
Boyd said: “I think that’s when everybody really sat up and took notice of Ross County. It was a big milestone in the club’s history and a great time for us.
“There was a total feelgood factor about the club.
“I think the players enjoyed playing Celtic as there was no pressure on us, as such. Everybody expected us to go there as the wee team from the Highlands, as we were back then.
“We went there with no fear and enjoyed the day. It was one of the best experiences of my career.
“I remember us taking a lot of fans down to play a very strong Dundee United side in the final. A lot of them went on to bigger and better things after that season.
“It gave us a taste of playing against these bigger sides week in, week out.
“That was the catalyst for pushing and getting promotion to the Premiership. It gave everybody at the club belief that we could be a top-flight club.
“Our fifth-place finish in the first season is still the highest the club has ever done – we just missed out on Europe. It was a massive achievement when we were favourites to go down.
“If I go back to when I first joined the club, if you had told me we would achieve all those promotions and sat in the Premiership so long, it was just one of those fairytale stories and amazing to be part of.”
Although Boyd was brought to the Staggies by Dick Campbell, initially on loan from Partick Thistle before making the move permanent, the 33-year-old credits Adams and his father George, who was director of football at Victoria Park, and chairman Roy MacGregor as the biggest influences during a nine-year County career which saw him make 306 appearances.
Boyd added: “Derek and George were in charge for the biggest part of my career.
“They were the ones that gave me the opportunity, It’s great to have a manager that believes in you.
“They had the vision to take the club from where it was in the old Second Division to an established Premiership club.
“They did a great job. The chairman Roy has always got a vision of where he wants to take Ross County and he’s always planning ahead to reach the next target.”
Boyd retired from playing during the summer to return to County as the club’s sporting director, and he added: “Everyone knows my connection with the club from the past, which made it a very easy decision to come back.
“I’m delighted to be back part of a great club that can hopefully push on and continue the success it has had in the last 25 years in the league. It just has to keep progressing.”