Lewis Ferguson wants to test himself against the best Europe has to offer after Aberdeen’s near-miss in Lisbon.
The Dons exited the Europa League at the third qualifying round stage for the sixth time in seven seasons after being edged out 1-0 by Sporting Clube de Portugal on Thursday.
The Reds put in a brave showing against the 18-time Portuguese champions in the Jose Avalade Stadium.
Midfielder Ferguson was disappointed they came up short, but hopes in the future Aberdeen gain more experience against elite European sides such as Sporting.
The 21-year-old said: “Of course (you want to play at that level). Playing against that last night was a good experience and it will be stand me in good stead.
“That’s the level you want to get to, that top European level. Playing in a stadium like that, that’s the sort of place you want to play.
“That was a good little taster and hopefully we can get more draws like that.
“When you get to this stage of the competition, you’re always going to come up against decent opposition.
“To come up against Sporting at this stage was probably one of the toughest ties we could have got – but they’re the ties you want to go and play in testing yourself against the best players in European football.
“That’s what you want to do, you want to and test yourself and see where you’re at compared to their level.”
Sporting’s squad contained a number of players that had been signed in multi-million euro transfers such as Brazilian Wendel, signed from Fluminense for 7.5m euros and reportedly boasting a 60m euro release clause in his contract.
Attackers Luciano Vietto and Andraz Sporar were also signed for 7.5m and 6m euros respectively.
For Ferguson, the quality of of some of Sporting’s players was clear to see and he added: “The boy I was up against the Brazilian Wendel was a good player. He was busy and always on the move and finding space.
“He never did anything too fancy, he kept it simple. But I don’t think he ever gave a pass away.
“He was always on the move, he was quick, he was strong and, when we were on the ball, he was the one to come after us.
“I think their centre-half (Sebastian) Coates looked comfortable. Every time he got the ball he just stood on it and waited on one of us to go and press him and then the ball was popped about.”
Besides Tiago Tomas’ goal, Aberdeen limited Sporting to few opportunities, with the Dons’ best chance for an equaliser coming in the closing stages when Ryan Hedges fired wide from the edge of the area with a clear sight of goal.
After the display they put in, Ferguson says the Reds were left wondering what might have been.
The former Hamilton player said: “We look at that chance that fell to Hedges and that plays in the back of your mind and what if we had maybe defended a bit better for that first chance that they got and scored.
“I think we could have come away with a positive result given the way we played.
“We did have a couple of chances and I thought we were going to be a threat from set plays, but it seemed like every time we flung the ball in the box the ref was blowing for free-kicks.
“So if was difficult to put the ball in for the likes of Ash, Andy (Considine) and Tommie (Hoban) to go and attack, because I felt as if every time we put the ball in the box the whistle was getting blown.
“We had a couple of chances that if we’d taken on another day it could have been something special.”
If the Dons are to qualify for Europe for an eighth straight season, a high finish in the Premiership is required.
Fourth-placed Aberdeen return to league action tomorrow against Ross County in Dingwall looking to put defeat in Lisbon and last Sunday’s shock 3-0 loss to Motherwell behind them.
“It’s a completely different game. We had to sit in and contain a top side – it’s going to be a bit different on Sunday,” Ferguson said.
“Domestic football is completely different to European football. It’s 100 miles an hour, tackles, boys are in your face.
“We’re going to need to switch our game back to domestic and try get the three points. I’m positive if we go up there and put in a winning performance, we’ll be fine.
“We were on good form going into the Motherwell game and they caught us cold. I can’t put my finger on it, but we just weren’t right on the day.
“It’s how you react to a defeat like that and we’ve got the chance on Sunday.”