Lewis Ferguson says Aberdeen’s track record of developing young players played a big part in his decision to join the club.
The 19-year-old joined the Dons from Hamilton on a pre-contract agreement.
Ferguson has made a fine start to his career at Pittodrie, starting all of the Reds’ games so far this season and scoring with a brilliant overhead kick against Burnley in the Europa League.
His form has been such that he was called up to Scot Gemmill’s Scotland Under-21 squad for the first time for the European Championship qualifiers against Andorra and the Netherlands.
Ferguson is in contention to face St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park tomorrow and says Aberdeen and manager Derek McInnes’ track record of helping improve young players played a big part in him joining.
He cited Kenny McLean as an example. The midfielder joined the Dons aged 23 in 2015 and developed into one of the star players in Scotland, became an international and earned a move to Norwich City.
Over the last year Ferguson has seen Scott McKenna become a Reds regular, captain Scotland and be linked with multi-million pound transfers.
He said: “I played against Kenny and I thought he was class.
“He was a top player and he got signed from St Mirren at a young age, came through, did well and moved down south.
“That’s setting a mark in a way and it’s similar with McKenna.
“He was a young boy and within a year he was captaining Scotland.
“I looked at that and I wanted to be the next one to do that to come to Aberdeen, progress and develop into a much better player.
“Hopefully I can do that like others have.
“The club seemed like the right place to be with the gaffer, Doc (Tony Docherty), Robbo (Barry Robson), the staff and the players, it really helps you.
“It’s a good club and a huge club and it makes you want to get better and perform for the fans.”
In his short time at the club Ferguson has appreciated the way he has been treated by McInnes, his assistant Docherty and coach Robson.
He said: “They have been brilliant with me.
“They don’t over-complicate things, they just tell me to be myself and it gives me freedom.
“I can just go out and play and the gaffer makes you want to win. his team talks drive you on.
“I have the feeling of wanting to win when I go on to the pitch.
“If I ever do make a mistake I know the gaffer and the staff will have my back because of the way they are with me.
“Robbo is out every day after training with me, we’re hitting free-kicks and doing shooting drills and trying to make me a better player.
“He’s giving me wee tips and the three of them have been excellent with me.”
Ferguson also feels like he has become a better player in his time at Aberdeen, having to raise his game to the same level of his team-mates.
He said: “My dad (Derek) said to me before I joined that if you play with better players you become better and I’ve found that out.
“No disrespect to Hamilton, but there are far better players here like Niall McGinn, Graeme Shinnie, Joe Lewis in goal, Scott McKenna.
“They’re good players and when you play with them every day in training it makes you a better player.
“When you see them doing wee things you take that on board and start to do it.
“It’s picking up wee habits and it’s helping me and making me a better player.
“It’s like that, raising your game, because when you go out on a Saturday at this club you have to be of the highest standard.”