Boss Derek McInnes wants Graeme Shinnie to take his spot among Aberdeen’s legendary captains by lifting the Betfred Cup at Hampden.
Aberdonian Shinnie will lead his home city club out at the national stadium in tomorrow’s final against holders Celtic.
McInnes, pictured, hailed the 27-year-old Scotland international midfield as a “natural leader”.
And he hopes Shinnie will be recognised alongside legendary trophy-lifting Dons captains like Willie Miller, Alex McLeish, Stewart McKimmie, Martin Buchan and Russell Anderson.
He said: “It is vitally important for Shinnie himself to be recognised as one of those cup-winning Aberdeen captains. The way we think of Willie Miller, Stewart McKimmie, Russell Anderson, Alex McLeish, Martin Buchan, Jimmy Mitchell and Frank Dunlop.
“Those guys who you picture lifting trophies for Aberdeen.
“It is important for Shinnie to do that with this club.”
Gothenburg Great Willie Miller lifted nine cups as captain – four Scottish Cups, three League Cups, the European Cup Winners’ Cup and Super Cup.
Miller also led the Dons to three league titles.
His defensive partner McLeish captained the Reds to Scottish Cup glory in 1990, a feat Martin Buchan achieved in 1970.
Stewart McKimmie raised the League Cup in 1995 and fellow Aberdonian Russell Anderson led the Dons to the League Cup in 2014.
Full-back Jimmy Mitchell captained the Reds to their maiden League Cup triumph in 1955, while Frank Dunlop was captain of the 1947 Scottish Cup-winning side.
Midfielder Shinnie has already lifted a trophy as a club captain as he led former club Inverness Caley Thistle to Scottish Cup glory in 2015.
He also led the Dons out as club captain in the 2017 Scottish Cup final where they lost 2-1 to a late Celtic goal.
Shinnie’s contract is up at the end of this season and he will be free to speak to any interested club from the start of the winter transfer window on January 1.
McInnes wants to retain his inspirational captain and a new contract has been offered to Shinnie that would make him one of the club’s highest paid players.
With a cup final on the horizon, Shinnie recently stated all his focus is on football, not his future.
McInnes said: “There are players that naturally lead and players that are led.
“Shinnie is a leader and he will be doing all he can to get the right result for us in the final.”
The Hampden showdown will be McInnes’ fourth final as Aberdeen manager.
He won his first, the 2014 League Cup, and lost two cup finals to Celtic in the 2016-17 season.
In the 2016-17 League Cup final the Reds produced a disappointing performance in losing 3-0 to Celtic.
They were vastly improved in the Scottish Cup final later that season and had opportunities to win until a late winner secured the cup for the Hoops courtesy of a 2-1 victory.
Following that sobering 3-0 League Cup final defeat McInnes received valuable advice from legendary Aberdeen and Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
Sir Alex led the Dons to Scottish dominance and two European trophies in an unprecedented era of success.
He then conquered England and the continent with the Old Trafford side.
However, even Sir Alex suffered cup final setbacks.
McInnes said: “Having that previous Hampden experience is important.
“I always remember what Sir Alex said to me after we’d lost that final 3-0 against Celtic.
“He said it’s only by revisiting the surroundings and having a familiarity that players start to feel at home and are more capable of delivering a performance.
“Sir Alex said to me he had international players who had played hundreds of games but didn’t turn up in a final and sometimes it can happen.
“By revisiting Hampden and finals you get more familiar with your surroundings.
“I feel it has helped us being at Hampden so often recently.”
McInnes and his squad prepared for the three previous finals by staying in St Andrews in the week leading up to the game.
This time they remained in the Granite City before today travelling down to Glasgow.
McInnes said: “We prepared like it was an ordinary game, but it is not an ordinary game, you feel that throughout the city.
“It is important we all enjoy it and relish the build-up to it.”