Dons boss Derek McInnes today paid tribute to Graeme Shinnie for battling through the pain barrier to help the Euro push.
Departing skipper Shinnie took painkillers and played with a heavily strapped ankle to make an emotional farewell.
It was the Scotland international’s last game at Pittodrie having signed a three-year deal with Frank Lampard’s Derby County.
There were fears Shinnie could be out for the rest of the season. But he fought back against the odds to start in the 2-1 defeat of Hearts that jumped Aberdeen to third in the Premiership.
The Reds are now three points clear of fourth-placed Kilmarnock who face Hibs today
McInnes has also refused to rule out a Pittodrie return for former Aberdeen defender Ash Taylor.
The manager said: “Shinnie is a shining example to others.
“We thought he was out for the season with a small chance of Easter Road. But he has such a positive mind-set.
“That is the type of thing we will miss from Shinnie and something others can learn from.
“He was fit enough to run about (against Hearts) but his ankle was heavily strapped and he took pain killers.
“He came and chapped on my door on Thursday and said he was ready to play.
“The physios had their doubt and concerns about it but when your captain says he is ready to play and wants to play you listen.
“While he clearly wasn’t fully fit he put himself out there and it was great to see Shinnie part of a winning performance in his last home game for us.
“He deserved that and our supporters deserved the win at home.”
McInnes was desperate to retain Shinnie and offered the club captain a lucrative long term contract.
However with his Dons deal set to expire at the end of the season the 27-year-old has signed a pre-contract with Derby.
At full-time the Dons supporters acknowledged Aberdonian Shinnie’s four years of service for the club with a standing-ovation.
They sang ‘Graeme Shinnie – He’s One of Our Own’ at the final whistle of his final home game.
“Shinnie, above anybody, needed to leave here with a winning performance,” said McInnes.
“He has the ability to make others better round about him which is a dying art in this day and age.
“It is not just his own performance.
“Too many players these days play their own game and look after themselves.
“Shinnie is a team player in the true sense of the word and I have never worked with a player who has the connection with a support as much as he has.
“He will be dearly missed but Shinnie has one more big effort for us next week.
“He will rest that ankle down now and will hopefully be ready to go again on Sunday against HIbs.
“Hopefully his last game for us is another three points.”
Aberdeen netted through two superb goals from Lewis Ferguson and Greg Stewart in the second half.
Keeper Joe Lewis and defender Andy Considine both sustained injuries during the defeat of Hearts.
Lewis played on with a knee injury sustained in a collision with Conor Shaughnessy at the end of the first half and Considine has a neck problem.
McInnes said: “Joe has hyper-extended his knee and thankfully the referee allowed us time for that settle.
“We’re always a better team with Joe in it.
“Andy has creaked his neck and I’m sure that’ll be OK for next week.”
Meanwhile McInnes also would not rule a potential summer move for former Dons defender Taylor.
The 28-year-old spent three seasons at Pittodrie before leaving for Northampton Town in summer 2017.
McInnes had been keen to retain the centre-back but Taylor opted to move back to England.
The former Wales U21 international has been placed on the transfer list by League Two Northampton.
It was part of a summer player cull with eight players released and three transfer listed.
Northampton are understood to be looking for a six figure fee for Taylor which would likely put him out of Aberdeen’s price range.
McInnes’ budget will limit him to working within the free transfer and loan market.
McInnes said: “Ash met my head of recruitment at a game a couple of weeks ago and were talking away.
“I don’t know if there is anything more than that at this minute.”
Asked if Taylor was a player he would like to take back to Pittodrie, McInnes said: “We would like to take another centre-back in and are looking at other options.
“There are five or six players that are up for consideration.
“If you add Ash to that it would be up to seven.
“We just want to weigh up everything – cost, type of player.
“it is news to me other than my head of recruitment had a conversation with him a couple of weeks ago.”