Former Pittodrie Chief Executive Duncan Fraser hopes Aberdeen can recreate the heroics of Dnipro by reaching the Europa League groups.
Fraser is set to step down from his role as a non-executive director at Aberdeen on Wednesday to take up a position with UEFA.
After 18 years at the club, one of his abiding memories is the 1-1 draw with Dnipro in Ukraine in 2007 to secure qualification for the UEFA Cup group stages.
That season, when Jimmy Calderwood’s side would progress to a last-32 clash with German giants Bayern Munich, was the last time Aberdeen qualified for Euro group stages.
Aberdeen will kick-off a seventh successive bid under boss Derek McInnes to reach that level in the Europa League first qualifying round on August 27.
Qualifying rounds have been reduced to one-legged ties by UEFA to avoid fixture congestion due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Even with one-legged ties, the Reds have to negotiate four rounds, whereas in 2007 Dnipro were all that stood in their way.
Fraser said: “Aberdeen can reach the group stages, but we all have to recognise that with each year it becomes all the more difficult.
“Dnipro were a fantastic team, but we only had the two games to play against them that season to get to the group stages.”
Striker Darren Mackie memorably headed home the “£1 million goal” in Ukraine on October 4 2007.
Dnipro equalised through Andriy Vorobey but, following a 0-0 draw at Pittodrie, the Dons progressed on away goals.
Qualifying for the groups brings greater rewards now, with nearly £3m in prize payments alone. There are also payments of around £500,000 for a group win and £160,000 for a draw.
Just eight years after losing out to the Dons, big-spending Dnipro would reach the Europa League final, losing 3-2 to Sevilla. On the route to the final, Dnipro knocked out Napoli, Club Brugge, Ajax and Olympiakos.
Fraser said: “One of the highlights for me was the fantastic result in Dnipro under Jimmy Calderwood and Jimmy Nicholl.
“They both did a great job for Aberdeen.
“That performance in Dnipro was superb, especially when you look at what they have achieved since and they had players who earned an absolute fortune.”
The draw in Ukraine set up group stage ties against Panathinaikos, Lokomotiv Moscow, Atletico Madrid and Copenhagen.
Aberdeen trounced Copenhagen 4-0 at Pittodrie in the final group match to qualify for the last 32. They drew 2-2 with Bayern Munich at Pittodrie before losing 5-1 in Germany.
Aberdeen may have failed to reach the group stages in six attempts under Derek McInnes, but Fraser insists there have been some superb performances.
In particular, the 3-0 defeat of HNK Rijeka in Croatia on July 16, 2015. It was Rijeka’s first home defeat in Europe in 13 games.
Aberdeen would progress after drawing 2-2 at Pittodrie in the second leg. However, Rijeka gained revenge last season when dumping the Dons out at the third qualifying round stage by triumphing 4-0 on aggregate.
Fraser said: “The performance in Rijeka was superb and it was such as fantastic result.
“The temperature was absolutely unbearable.
“The Rijeka team Aberdeen beat that night were better than the one that knocked them out of the Europa League last season.”
Fraser will also depart his role as a Scottish FA board member on Wednesday before taking up a position as a mentor within UEFA’s business development programme, UEFA Grow, which provides support to all 55 UEFA member associations.
The highlight of his time at Pittodrie was the 2014 League Cup win against Inverness Caley Thistle at Parkhead, cheered on by 40,000 Aberdeen supporters.
He said: “I don’t think we will ever see an Aberdeen support equal to that in a ground again.
“I was pleased for every fan and Stewart Milne who had experienced it all, the ups and downs.
“I consider it a privilege to be involved with the club and that League Cup win was the highlight and a crowning moment.”