Aberdeen defender Dom Ball today revealed he was in regular contact with good friend Ryan Christie following their horror collision at Hampden.
Ball will return to Glasgow tomorrow for the first time since he was red carded in the 3-0 Scottish Cup semi-final loss to Celtic at the national stadium.
The 23-year-old received a second yellow following a sickening, accidental collision with former Dons’ team-mate Christie.
Ball’s head collided with the side of Christie’s face and the Scotland international suffered multiple fractures of the eye socket, jaw and cheekbone.
Christie subsequently underwent surgery and is unlikely to be back in time for the Scottish Cup final next month.
Speaking for the first time since the semi-final, Ball, who is set to face Rangers tomorrow, said: “It was hard because it was a good friend of mine who had to have surgery on his face.
“I was speaking to Ryan the whole time and wished him good luck with his surgery.
“Ryan was having a laugh with me, which was good.”
It was Ball’s first red card of his career. With the Reds drawing 0-0 at the time of his dismissal, the incident was pivotal as Aberdeen who would eventually be reduced to nine men, crashed out the cup.
“The red card was massively hard to take,” he said.
“I thought I was never going to be sent off (in his career).
“It was doubly hard because I was sent off and we lost 3-0.
“I still think it was a bit harsh.
“The first yellow card was so early (for a foul on Jonny Hayes near the dug-out touchline) and I only gave a free kick away. You have those games in football.
“However, we move on from that. You are only as good as your last game and we played Kilmarnock and beat them 1-0.”
Ball was at the centre of another controversial incident at Rugby Park when Kilmarnock’s Rory McKenzie was red carded for an off-the-ball incident when lashing out at the on-loan Rotherham defender in injury time. That dismissal was later down-graded to yellow on appeal.
Next up for the Reds is the bid to defeat Rangers four times in a season in Glasgow.
Aberdeen trail the Ibrox club by eight points and a lesser goal difference, but Ball is convinced, should they win tomorrow, the bid for second will still be alive.
He said: “It is disappointing (being behind Rangers in the Premiership table) and we would have liked to have taken second.
“There is still the chance of doing that because if we beat Rangers it takes the gap down to five points with three games to go. Every game is tough so it is not impossible.
“But we have to start with Rangers at Ibrox.”
Victories over Rangers at Ibrox are common-place this season, but that was not always the case. Aberdeen had to wait 26 years and 41 failed attempts before winning 2-1 in May 2017.
What has changed?
Ball said: “Our approach to the game, our preparation and we have the right characters here at the club.
“We have tactically gone down to play Rangers and played out the games very well.
“Hopefully we will continue to do that tomorrow. To beat Rangers three times in a row in Glasgow is very, very good.”
Ball is under no illusions as to the desperation within Ibrox for Rangers not to lose all four games in their own city to the Reds over the course of this season.
In the build-up to tomorrow’s showdown, Ibrox boss Steven Gerrard launched a broad-side by insisting Aberdeen raise their game against Rangers.
Ball said: “Rangers will be up for it after we beat them three times in Glasgow.
“They will want to show a bit of pride, so we will have to be on top of our game at Ibrox.”
Ball is out of contract with parent club Rotherham at the end of the season and Aberdeen have opened talks with him about potentially signing a permanent deal at Pittodrie. He insists there has been no development and his focus is on helping the Dons qualify for Europe.
Ball said: “The focus for me is on the last four games of the season, so we will just have to see.”