Graeme Shinnie says it would be a dream come true to be joining an English Premier League club this summer.
The departing Aberdeen captain has agreed a three-year contract with Derby County when his Dons deal expires at the end of the month.
When Shinnie signed his pre-contract agreement with the Rams they were a Championship club – but that could all change by the time the 27-year-old arrives at Pride Park later this summer for pre-season.
This afternoon, Frank Lampard’s men play Aston Villa at Wembley in the Championship play-off final for a place in the Premier League.
Shinnie will be watching the game with interest.
In deciding to take the plunge of going to England the former Inverness Caley Thistle player’s aim was to make it to the Premier League.
Shinnie said: “I’m buzzing to be going to Derby. I’m going home for a rest first.
“I badly need it after a long season but the excitement is there to get down to Derby, get in among it and see what the future holds.
“If they win the final and I get the opportunity in the Premier League it would be a dream come true.
“I’ve grown up watching Match of the Day and the Premier League every Saturday night.
“So if I could play in the league I’ve watched growing up it would be a dream come true.
“I’m watching the final and it’s a win-win situation.
“If Derby go up then I’ll be buzzing to try to get a game in the Premier League.
“And if they stay in the Championship it will be a season of trying to help the club get into the Premier League.”
Shinnie was struck by the ambition of Derby and their manager Lampard when agreeing to sign for the club.
He was pitched the dream of playing in the Premier League.
Initially it looked like Shinnie might have to spend next season trying to get the rams promoted.
But they are now just 90 minutes away from returning to the top flight of English football for the first time since 2008.
If Derby can get over the line Shinnie says he will embrace the challenge of trying to play in one of the best leagues in world football.
The Scotland international added: “I’ve signed for Derby to try to play in the Premier League ultimately.
“It’s what they’ve talked about since I signed, they want to be in the Premier League.
“If I didn’t feel I was up to that task I wouldn’t have signed for the club. I’ve got that opportunity and that challenge so it’s up to me to show what I can do.”
When Derby’s interest in Shinnie first became apparent he was able to seek advice from a Pittodrie team-mate.
Left-back Max Lowe has had two loan spells at Aberdeen from the Rams this season and when Lampard showed an interest in Shinnie, the Reds skipper asked his team-mate about the club.
Shinnie said: “I’ve chatted to Max about Derby. I chatted to him when I heard about the interest.
“I’m excited by the prospect of playing for them.
“There is so much to be excited about. It’s a new fresh challenge for me and it’s something I’m going to enjoy.”
With Shinnie’s new chapter down south to begin later this summer, he also took time to reflect on four years with the Dons, two of which he spent as captain.
He said: “There have been many highlights in my time with the club.
“Leading the team out in two cup finals (2017 Scottish Cup and 2018 League Cup) was a proud moment.
“I look back on some of the goals I’ve scored like Apollon Limassol at home (Europa League third qualifying round 2017) which was a great moment.
“We’ve beaten teams at Hampden, we’ve beaten Rangers at Ibrox in the cup.
“Games like that are massive for the club – I know how much they mean to the fans.
“Another was beating Celtic on the final day of last season as well.
“Those are the games that count and they mean a lot.”