Greg Leigh was worried injury might limit him to just one game for Aberdeen in the Europa League.
So the left-back was thrilled to play his part in the Dons’ 5-0 demolition of Chikhura Sachkhere on Thursday, which means he has two more Euro matches on the horizon.
Leigh netted on his competitive Reds debut at Pittodrie against the Georgians with Sam Cosgrove bagging a hat-trick and Scott Wright also on target as Derek McInnes’ men won their Europa League second qualifying round tie 6-1 on aggregate.
After tomorrow’s Premiership opener against Hearts, Aberdeen will tackle old foes Rijeka in the third qualifying round, with the first leg in Croatia on Thursday.
One of Leigh’s reasons for joining Aberdeen this summer on loan from Dutch side NAC Breda was the opportunity to play European football.
But the 24-year-old had to miss both legs of the first qualifying tie against RoPS Rovaniemi of Finland and the first leg against Chikhura due to injury.
Leigh damaged his ankle in the final pre-season friendly against Inverness Caley Thistle at Elgin’s Borough Briggs on July 6.
He said: “I am heavy footed at the best of times and I don’t think the pitch had been watered in six or seven months.
“It was an unfortunate one. I just planted my leg too hard and went over my ankle.
“It was very frustrating to get injured in the last game of pre-season.
“That was really gutting.
“There were lots of reasons why I signed for Aberdeen but playing in Europe was really attractive.
“It was something I wanted to do for my career.
“To get injured, I was worried I was only going to get to play one game in Europe.
“It is so pleasing to come in and be part of a convincing performance like that.”
Leigh was also determined to be fit to feature on Thursday because of the Dons’ limited defensive options.
Following the former Bury player’s injury, centre-backs Mikey Devlin and Ash Taylor were also ruled out with hamstring problems, so Leigh’s return this week was a boost for manager McInnes.
Leigh added: “It was worrying as I was out and then Mikey wasn’t far behind and then Ash.
“Getting back fit was a real priority because I want to play in these games and help the team.
“It was really nice to play through the game. Hopefully I can stay fit and kick on from there.”
What capped Leigh’s competitive debut for the Dons was heading home the third goal against Chikhura.
“To get myself fit, be involved in the game, score a goal and be part of it meant a lot to me,” Leigh said.
“It seemed like I was so open and so on my own that I had to score it, so I feel like I unnecessarily headed the ball very hard.
“But heading is something I enjoy and trying to time it. It’s something I work hard at, so when it came in I was looking to score rather than be nervous about it.”
Tomorrow Leigh is set to get his first taste of Scottish Premiership football when Hearts visit Pittodrie.
After Thursday’s emphatic Euro victory he’s relishing taking on the Jambos and hopes the Dons can carry on from where they left off against Chikhura and make a fast start domestically.
He said: “I’m excited. I think it’s something that will suit a lot of the players.
“We’ve got a lot of good footballers in the team, but also people who enjoy the physical side as well.
“I think the game will be faster than the European games which I also think will suit some of our players.
“Starting off with one of the bigger teams and better teams in Scotland is a good challenge for us.
“We look like we’re playing well, so it could be the perfect time to take them on.
“It is a good time to get into a match like this after a 5-0 victory.
“We are feeling positive after playing with so much cohesion and with the way we finished off the goals.
“We will look to take that into the game.
“I knew what I wanted to do with my time here and that is to go and do well in the league.
“Playing against one of the big hitters is good for the team and good for me.”