No nerves as RoPS skipper Reguero is familiar with Pittodrie

Antonio Reguero training at Pittodrie with RoPS Rovaniemi ahead of the Europa League tie with Aberdeen
Antonio Reguero training at Pittodrie with RoPS Rovaniemi ahead of the Europa League tie with Aberdeen Picture by KATH FLANNERY

For RoPS Rovaniemi captain Antonio Reguero it is second-time lucky landing Aberdeen in Europe.

The former Ross County and Inverness Caley Thistle keeper hoped the Finnish side would draw the Dons four years ago.

Aberdeen were one of the five teams RoPS could have drawn in the Europa League in 2016-17 but it wasn’t to be.

Now the former Real Madrid C keeper is determined to make the most of finally landing Aberdeen and a return to Scotland, where he also spent time at Hibs and Kilmarnock.

RoPS captain Reguero will lead out the Finns at Pittodrie in tonight’s Europa League first qualifying round first leg tie.

Reguero said: “When I arrived to RoPS four years ago I came to play European games.

“That year Aberdeen were in the last five teams we could get in the draw.

“I thought that was my chance to come back to Scotland.

“When the draw was made this year and we had Aberdeen again in the last five I said to my family this is my chance to go back.

“I am very happy as I enjoyed my time in Scotland and met so many good people. I loved the country, and why not come back to fight for a good result?”

Tonight’s match will have the unusual scenario of both club captain’s being keepers.

Aberdeen keeper Joe Lewis was confirmed as skipper just 24 hours before tonight’s first leg tie.

Lewis, 31, replaces Graeme Shinnie who left Pittodrie at the end of last season to join Derby County.

Reguero said: “It is not about who wears the armband, it’s about how you behave. It doesn’t matter if it is an outfield player or a goalkeeper.

“As long as you try to advise everybody and make everything work.”

Reguero and the RoPS team trained at Pittodrie last night to get a feel of the pitch.

Pittodrie is a familiar surrounding for the 37-year-old who played there with Ross County and Inverness Caley Thistle.

He said: “It is a nice stadium and I am sure there will be so many people but we are not going to feel nervous.

“I have played three games here and I remember in my second game with Inverness we drew 2-2 so I have good memories.

“I lost 4-0 with Ross County which was not so memorable but it is always good to play in this stadium.”

RoPS will tonight embark on only the sixth European campaign in the club’s 69-year history.

They have never progressed beyond the second qualifying round and are struggling in their domestic league.

Having qualified for Europe as runners-up last season RoPS are languishing third bottom of the league after 15 games.

Reguero accepts Aberdeen are favourites but said they have flown to the Granite City determined to overturn the odds.

He said: “Aberdeen have the history on paper but when the game starts we will fight.

“If you watch our games we are doing well.

“Maybe last year we kept more clean sheets and did better but it is about being strong and I think we are.”