Boss Derek McInnes today revealed new signing Craig Bryson chose the chance of success with the Dons over big money deals in England.
Aberdeen won the midfielder’s signature ahead of English Championship clubs and Premiership rivals Hearts.
Derby County boss Frank Lampard offered Bryson a new contract to remain at the club and Luton Town were also keen on the Scot.
Hearts and Kilmarnock had also held talks with the Scotland international midfielder.
McInnes admits he feared Bryson would be out of the Dons’ reach. However, they won the race to land the midfielder who has signed a pre-contract on a two-year deal.
Bryson, 32, missed the Rams’ promotion play-off fixtures with an ankle injury.
However, McInnes is confident Bryson will be fit to face RoPS Rovaniemi in the Europa League opener on Thursday July 11.
McInnes said: “Craig had a lot to decide and had offers that were financially way out of our remit. Derby wanted to keep him and Craig had a strong offer from another Championship club so he could have benefited financially from staying in England.
“When we looked at the out-of-contract list 18 months ago he was someone who stood out to us. But we didn’t really think we could get him, truth be told.
“The reality usually is that you don’t get certain ones and initially we assumed he would be in that bracket.
“Craig has given up a lot and has come to Aberdeen wanting to do well.
“He is not kicking back, he wants to be successful and we can provide that European stage he is keen to experience.
“And hopefully we can give him those opportunities to be a success at Aberdeen.”
Bryson moved to Derby in 2011 in a £350,000 move from Kilmarnock and went on to make 275 appearances for the Rams, scoring 42 times.
He played 32 times for Derby last season and was a regular until suffering an ankle ligament injury in a 2-0 defeat of Queens Park Rangers on April 22.
That ruled him out of Derby’s run to the Championship play-off final at Wembley where they lost out on promotion to Aston Villa.
The previous season he helped Cardiff win promotion to the top flight while on loan.
McInnes said: “I am pleased with the four signings we have made, but I understand that Craig is the one that has everyone a bit more excited.
“If you didn’t know what Craig has been up to recently you can quickly find out.
“You can see the love and respect he has from both Derby County and their supporters.
“They wanted Craig to stay because his contribution has been so high for them. To get that level of player, a player of his ability, is a real boost for us all.
“This has been on-going with his agent since January with the potential he may well come to Scotland.
“When he made his mind up to come back to Scotland we felt we’d have a chance.
“Things have moved quickly and now he’s coming in, so I can’t wait to get working with him.
“I have been very impressed by him in the meetings we’ve had and I can see why he’s so highly thought of by the people at Derby.
“He is motivated to be here, he wants to play in Europe because that’s something he hasn’t done.
“We have lost players, including my captain, so we needed to bring in the right types and the right quality.”
Ironically Aberdeen have signed Bryson from Derby, the very club that former Dons captain Graeme Shinnie left for in the summer, signing a three-year contract.
“Shinnie is Shinnie and Craig is Craig, it’s about getting a quality player,” said McInnes.
“They both play with a high intensity, they both want to win and they are real team players.”