Mikey Devlin made his Dons debut in the Battle of Britain Europa League qualifiers with Burnley.
They are special games the defender won’t forget – and the chance to feature in more European clashes is why he’s desperate to help Aberdeen secure third spot.
The Reds have two games left this term. Hearts are first up at Pittodrie tonight before a trip to Easter Road to play Hibs a week on Sunday.
The race to secure automatic entry into next season’s Europa League qualifiers by finishing third in the Premiership looks as if it will go to the wire between Aberdeen and Kilmarnock.
Steve Clarke’s side are ahead of the Dons on goal difference with Rugby Park fixtures against Hibs and Rangers to come.
Although the task of securing a sixth successive European campaign is out of the Reds’ hands, Devlin desperately wants to be in continental action again early next season.
He joined Aberdeen from Hamilton last January, but was still recovering from a cruciate ligament injury. That meant his debut at centre-back didn’t come until the 1-1 draw with English Premier League side Burnley on July 26.
Devlin’s second Dons game was the 3-1 loss in the return at Turf Moor seven days later.
The 25-year-old said: “Those games against Burnley are special memories for me and they’re games I’ll always remember regardless of how my career goes in the future.
“Although we didn’t manage to get through in the second leg the atmosphere in both games was unreal to be involved in as a footballer.
“I loved being involved in those two games and hopefully we’ll have an opportunity to play in games like that again.
“European football is huge for Aberdeen – we’ve had it for the last five seasons.
“Four of those have been after finishing second and we’re disappointed we weren’t able to finish second this year.
“So we want to be able to finish third and make sure we get into Europe again.
“That’s what this club’s about, playing in Europe, and it’s great coming back to pre-season having that buzz knowing you’re going to be playing in qualifiers for the Europa League.
“It’s huge for the club and the fans and it’s huge for the players and the staff.”
Devlin is aiming to make sure Aberdeen put pressure on Kilmarnock by winning their last two matches – starting with the Jambos. Fourth could yet be good enough for the Dons – provided Celtic beat Hearts in the Scottish Cup final.
But Devlin doesn’t want to have to rely on that game and added: “There are two games left. We need to do our job and try to win the game. If we do that then we turn our focus to the Hibs game.
“We’ll put our focus into trying to win that and then see where we end up.
“That’s all we can do and if that’s good enough to get us into third and into Europe then brilliant.”
Aberdeen go into tonight’s game following losses to Rangers (2-0 at Ibrox) and Celtic (3-0 at Pittodrie last Saturday).
Devlin is keen to get back to winning ways, but doesn’t expect it to be easy against a Hearts side who beat the Dons 2-1 at Tynecastle on March 30.
He said: “It’s a huge game for us because we’re Aberdeen and we’ve grown used to winning. So the last two weeks haven’t been what we wanted.
“The performance on Saturday was a bit better and we did OK in spells of the game. But overall the result wasn’t what we wanted.
“It’s always a tough physical battle against Hearts.
“They’ve got a team of good players as well and they are a team that have quality which can hurt you, so we’ll need to be at our very best to get a result.”