Aberdeen summer signing Declan Gallagher accepts he is walking in the footsteps of defensive giants Alex McLeish and Willie Miller.
The legendary Miller-McLeish centre-back partnership was pivotal to the Dons conquering Europe and dominating Scotland in the 1980s.
Aberdeen manager Stephen Glass handed Scotland international centre-back Gallagher the No.5 jersey for the new season as a statement of what he expects.
Legend McLeish wore that number throughout a phenomenal Dons career that yielded two European trophies, three league titles, five Scottish Cups and two League Cups.
Gallagher, 30, accepts it is a “special” number and he aims to be inspired by the club greats to bring success to Pittodrie.
He said: “Getting that number five strip means the world to me and, speaking to the manager, it’s clearly a special number for the club.
“The manager thought it would make a little bit of a statement, a centre-half coming in and wearing number five.
“There’s been some great players here in the past who have worn number five.
“I think Alex McLeish wore the number five strip at Aberdeen, so it’s great respect for me from the manager to give me that.
“It’s something I’m going to have to look up to and hopefully I can do it justice.
“The fans here have seen players like Miller and McLeish and hopefully I can bring great success like they did to the club.”
Gallagher not daunted by history
Having agreed a pre-contract in May, the centre-back officially signed on at Aberdeen following his involvement with Scotland at Euro 2020.
The former Motherwell captain is set to make his competitive debut in the Uefa Europa Conference League clash with BK Hacken at Pittodrie on Thursday.
He is not daunted by the history of the No.5 shirt – only inspired to make his own mark.
He said: “It is a great responsibility, because there have been great players who have worn this number five.
“I want to make my own mark wearing it, so hopefully I can do that by playing well for the club.”
McLeish and Miller are part of a rich history at Pittodrie and Gallagher admits the past success, and Glass’ plans for a successful future, combined to elevate the Reds above other clubs interested in signing him.
He said; “I’ve known all along how big a club Aberdeen is and that’s one of the reasons I wanted to come here.
“I had other options, but this is a massive club and I’m delighted to be here.
“I just want to bring great success here.”
Competitive debut in front of supporters
Gallagher is set to make his competitive debut in front of a Pittodrie crowd that Aberdeen hope will be 5,665 strong.
Confirmation from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon the country would move into level zero of coronavirus restrictions on Monday gave the green light for seated stadiums in Scotland to host 2,000 fans.
Clubs can apply to local authorities on a case-by-case basis for a higher number of supporters and the Dons submitted a plan to accommodate 8,200 for the Euro tie against BK Hacken and the Premiership opener against Dundee United on August 1.
However, Aberdeen recently confirmed they are hopeful Aberdeen City Council will allow 5,665 supporters for the Euro tie.
They are still awaiting official confirmation of that number.
🔴 We are hopeful to get the go-ahead for 5,665 fans at the BK Hacken game.
🎫 Once we hear from the Council, we’ll let season ticket holders know the process for applying for tickets. pic.twitter.com/6IHBRtw0cx
— Aberdeen FC (@AberdeenFC) July 15, 2021
Only 300 supporters have been inside Pittodrie in the 17 months since the pandemic hit in March 2020.
Those 300 were granted strict socially-distanced access for a test game against Kilmarnock in September.
Gallagher experienced the return of supporters at Euro 2020 and is relishing finally playing in front of crowds after a year-and-a-half of empty stadiums.
He said: “Supporters back will be a massive boost.
“I saw the fans back at the Euros and at Wembley.
“It is a spectator sport and when fans are not there it just isn’t the same. Supporters are everything in football.
“We want the fans back as quick as possible, but that is down to people higher up than me deciding.
“I know the club are working hard to try to get fans back as quick as possible.”