Former Don Jonny Hayes pays tribute to the club

Jonny Hayes has signed for Celtic

Departing winger Jonny Hayes today paid tribute to boss Derek McInnes and the Red Army as he ended five years at Pittodrie.

The Republic of Ireland international has joined Celtic in a £1.3 million deal.

Hayes has penned a three-year contract at the treble winners with Celtic attacker Ryan Christie moving to Aberdeen on a season-long loan as part of the deal.

Christie, 22, had a successful loan spell at Pittodrie last season and was named Aberdeen FC Young Player of the Year.

As he signed on at Parkhead, Hayes underlined his affection for Aberdeen by donating funds to replace any 2017/18 shirts fans have bought with his name on the back. Aberdeen have confirmed the club will make up the remainder to ensure no fan is left disappointed.

Hayes requested that the shirts be donated to the Aberdeen FC Community Trust.

Hayes said: “I’m where I am today as a player and a person due to the support I received at Aberdeen Football Club and the guidance of the gaffer and Doc (assistant Tony Docherty).

“I’ll never forget that as it can’t be reciprocated.

“Thank you to everyone from top to bottom at AFC.

“From the minute I signed, myself and my family were made to feel so welcome not just within the club but the whole city. It’s a place that I will always hold in the highest regard.

“Off the field my son was born there, but there are a fair few on-field memories that are not far behind.”

The 29-year-old, short-listed for the PFA Scotland Player of the Year ward, admitted the lure of the Champions League was one of the factors that saw him move to Celtic.

Last season in the group stages, the Hoops had glamour ties against Barcelona, Manchester City and Borussia Monchengladbach.

He said: “You can’t get away from the Champions League.

“I can imagine it is the reason many players have wanted to come to Celtic.

“Not only is it the size and the stature of the club, Champions League nights and the atmosphere are a massive factor in wanting to come here.”

The loss of Hayes, one of the Dons main creative outlets, is a major blow to Aberdeen.

He will link up with Brendan Rodgers again having previously worked under him when he was youth coach Reading in 2004.

He said: “Brendan and I go back a long time and he has been a huge factor in my wanting to come to Celtic. I still remember how well he looked after me when I went over to England.

“I was away from my family at a young age and he made the extra effort.

“This move has been in the pipeline for while. I was eager to get it over the line. It is a dream to come true and I can’t wait to get started.”