Aberdeen skipper Shinnie says players have belief they can lift Betfred Cup

Aberdeen's Graeme Shinnie.
Aberdeen's Graeme Shinnie.

Since signing for his home city club Aberdeen captain Graeme Shinnie has been desperate to lift a trophy and is confident he can do that at Hampden tomorrow.

The Scotland international midfielder knows what it takes to lift a trophy – he led former club Inverness Caley Thistle to Scottish Cup glory as captain in 2015.

Aberdeen go for a first taste of silverware since 2014 at Hampden in the Betfred Cup final while holders Celtic will bid for a seventh straight domestic honour.

Shinnie accepts there are many uncertainties in a one-off game where silverware is at stake but there is one thing he is 100 per cent certain of: Aberdeen do have a squad strong enough to lift the cup.

The inspirational skipper said: “We know on the day that we have the squad to go and win the cup.

“I am desperate to get my hands on a trophy as captain of Aberdeen.

“Ever since I came to Aberdeen I have been desperate to get silverware and I am very hopeful that I can do that.

“It will be a tough game as Celtic are a good team and anything can happen in a final; you don’t know what to expect but we will give our all.”

Aberdeen born and raised, Shinnie is, as the Dons fans sing, “one of our own”.

He arrived at Pittodrie in the summer of 2015, just weeks after leading Inverness to Scottish Cup glory at Hampden.

Shinnie was handed the honour of leading the Reds out in the 2017 Scottish Cup final, as skipper Ryan Jack was relieved of the captaincy by boss Derek McInnes in the build-up to the game amid mounting speculation over his future. Having rejected a Dons deal, Jack would sign for Rangers later that summer.

Shinnie and his team-mates have witnessed first-hand the mounting excitement within the city for the final.

A 20,000-strong travelling Red Army will cheer on the trophy bid, having snapped up the club’s ticket allocation within days. Many more will be watching the action live on BT Sport in the hope the Reds can lift a second trophy under McInnes and parade it on an open-topped bus. Shinnie understands how much cup glory means to his home city and Dons supporters – and aims to deliver.

He said: “It was important for us as a team, a squad and a club to get to another cup final. We always pride ourselves on trying to do that and in giving ourselves a chance of trying to win silverware.

“It is important to us to be in that position where we are in a cup final, as in a one-off game anything can happen.

“To have that chance to go out there and win a cup is very important to us, which is what we aim to do.”

Dons boss McInnes has today challenged Shinnie to join Aberdeen’s elite band of legendary captains who have lifted a trophy for the club.

Willie Miller is one of those greats, having raised nine trophies as Aberdeen skipper after triumphing in a cup final.

Gothenburg Great Miller won four Scottish Cups, three League Cups as well as the European Cup Winner’s Cup and the European Super Cup.

While captain at Pittodrie, raising trophies became a regular occurrence for the legendary defender, who also led Aberdeen to three league titles.

Aberdeen’s greatest-ever player’s advice to Shinnie and the fellow Dons is clear: go into the final believing they will win.

Miller said: “You prepare for a final with the expectation of lifting the trophy. That is what Aberdeen will be doing.

“There will be plenty written about how Aberdeen will be underdogs on form and how if Celtic perform they will win the trophy.

“Aberdeen players will have read all that during the last week but that maybe gives them the fuel to take that underdog role to prove the critics wrong.

“That is how I used to look upon it and how Aberdeen looked upon it in the seventies.”

Under Miller’s captaincy the Dons dominated Scotland and conquered Europe in the early to mid-eighties.

However, it was not always that way. Miller believes there are similarities between the Aberdeen team of the late seventies and McInnes’s squad now.

Aberdeen are rated as 6-1 underdogs by bookmakers to triumph tomorrow and Miller was in the same situation in 1976 when facing Celtic in the League Cup final.

Celtic would go on to win the league title and Scottish Cup that season but Aberdeen denied them the treble by triumphing 2-1 at Hampden after extra-time.

Miller said: “I have experienced both sides of it as I played in a number of finals in the seventies where Aberdeen were going in mostly as underdogs. That was because we hadn’t proven that we could consistently take care of beating the Old Firm in Glasgow.

“We were fighting our way through to set the platform for the eighties where it did become routine for the players to get to finals and win them.

“Aberdeen now find themselves in that same position.

“However, they can look back to the Scottish Cup final of two seasons ago (a 2-1 loss in 2017) in particular where they were so close to overturning Celtic and winning that trophy.

“They can take confidence from that.”