Teenager Lewis Ferguson has rapidly forged a reputation for scoring big-game goals – and boss Derek McInnes reckons there are many more to come.
The 19-year-old added another pivotal goal to his growing Reds CV with a superb 87th-minute free- kick to secure a 2-1 win at in-form Kilmarnock.
It came just seven days after the winning headed goal that dumped Rangers 1-0 in the League Cup semi-final at Hampden.
A summer signing from Hamilton, the teen announced his arrival with a sublime overhead kick goal in the Europa League qualifiers against Premier League Burnley at Turf Moor.
It was the start of a rapid ascent that McInnes is confident will inevitably secure senior international recognition with Scotland.
McInnes said: “Lewis was born to play football and play in the big occasions.
“He can do a bit of everything for me. I can play Lewis anywhere on the pitch and I would get some level of performance.
“For me, though, his best position is as an attacking midfielder and I think he will score important goals as he has done this week.”
Scotland boss Alex McLeish was set to name his squad today for the UEFA Nations League games against Albania and Israel.
McInnes reckons it is only a matter of time before Ferguson moves onto the radar for a senior call-up.
Along with Bruce Anderson and Connor McLennan, he was named in Scot Gemill’s Under-20s squad to play Turkey in Murcia, Spain, on November 17.
McInnes said: “For me, Lewis will play for Scotland.
“Whether he is ready now, it is not my job to do that.
“I’m sure everything will come his way in time.”
Aberdeen signed Ferguson on a pre-contract from Hamilton weeks before the end of last season. He arrived on a four-year deal in the summer.
However, a row over the training compensation for the teen rumbled on until mid-August when the matter was referred to a transfer tribunal. Hamilton wanted £1.25 million, with Aberdeen initially offering around £100,000.
Although the sum the Dons were ordered to pay remained private, it is understood to be £220,000.
That figure has already been repaid by his performances. Such is Ferguson’s impact the Dons are set to open talks on improving his current deal which runs until summer 2022.
McInnes said: “With the greatest of respect, Hamilton to Aberdeen is a big move as it comes with all that expectation.
“It is not always easy playing at Aberdeen as there is a lot required of you.
“Lewis dealt with that and also dealt with the transfer thing and the tribunal. He wasn’t fazed by that.
“Although he is a boy, Lewis is a man.
“He had to deal with everything that came to him last Sunday (after scoring in the semi-final).
“Most youngsters can get carried away with themselves but Lewis’s temperament has never been questioned.
“Nothing fazes him and he takes responsibility.
“There is a maturity about him that I love. However, it is also important we don’t expect too much of him.”
Ferguson’s versatility has also been impressive since arriving at Pittodrie.
Initially utilised in the No 10 role against Kilmarnock he later dropped back into a more defensive midfield position. The teen excelled in both.
McInnes said: “In the last three games Lewis has been asked to play three different roles
“At Kilmarnock he went from being a No 10 playing close to James Wilson in the first half and he was still making contact and winning more headers than anyone else.
“In the second half he played flat alongside Graeme Shinnie, got us going and delivered that moment of quality with the goal. He was the only one who gave a 90-minute performance at Kilmarnock. Against Hamilton Lewis predominantly played as the fourth sitting in front of the two centre halves and ran the game.
“During the week I was talking to Martin Canning (Hamilton manager) and he said he never really saw Lewis as being one that can control a game before. But he did.
“You need those who are giving the same 7 or 8 out of 10 or sometimes come up with a 10 out of 10 as he has in recent games.
“I know what I am going to get from him most weeks.
“Some days may be better than others but he always brings a level of performance.”