Dons starlet Frank Ross says that watching Ryan Fraser become a star inspired him to reach the Aberdeen first team.
Fraser broke into the Reds side aged 19 during the 2012/13 season before moving to Bournemouth in January 2013.
During his time on the south coast Fraser has helped Eddie Howe’s team win promotion to the Championship and then the English Premier League.
This season, Ross, 19, has made a serious impression in the Aberdeen first team.
He came off the bench against Rangers during the 2-1 defeat at Pittodrie on December 3 and scored a stunning free-kick as the Reds tried to get back into the game.
He started Aberdeen’s next match – a 1-0 win over Dundee at Dens Park on December 8 – and he has made two other substitute appearances this term.
Ross said seeing the likes of Ryan Fraser, Jack Grimmer and Fraser Fyvie in the first team in recent years inspired him to get there as well.
He said: “If you look at players like Ryan Fraser, he is doing so well for himself, so it is really encouraging. Coming through the youth system I had the same coaches he had at Under-11s and U12s.
“It’s encouraging, for sure. You want to play at the highest level and I want to enjoy my football.
“There are a few that the youth academy highlight – Fraser, Grimmer and Fyvie.
“The coaches say ‘these are the boys that worked the hardest in training. These are the boys that worked the hardest in games. If you do this you’ll get to where they are.’
“It’s true because the hardest working players are always the most successful ones.”
Scott McKenna, Scott Wright, Ross and Daniel Harvie have all seen first-team action this term.
Ross added: “There have been a few young boys playing this season if you look at Scott McKenna, Scott Wright.
“so it’s been a good season for the young boys to play.
“Daniel Harvie is coming through as well.
“It’s very encouraging to see them get a chance.
“I’ve played U20s with both McKenna and Wright and I’ve been in Scotland teams with both of them.”
Ross is also thankful to Aberdeen’s Youth Academy coaches for helping him progress into the first-team squad.
He also singled out Gothenburg Great Neil Simpson, who is head of the Dons Youth Academy, for helping him make the step up to the first team.
He said: “Coaches like Simmy, Gavin Levy, Scott Anderson – coming through the youth system they are brilliant.
“Players like Simmy have played right at the top and they teach you a lot. He was also quite an aggressive player and I kind of pride myself on being aggressive as well.
“He definitely wouldn’t let me shirk out of a challenge. I like my big tackles.
“Ask any of the boys and they’ll say that I like going in hard.
“I learned that from Simmy.”