The prospect of winning silverware enticed Rob Milsom to Aberdeen.
But after suffering double semi-final heartache at the hands of Celtic the former Don hopes the current crop of Reds aren’t left with the regrets he has.
On Sunday Derek McInnes’ side will battle it out with the Hoops for a place in next month’s Scottish Cup final against either Hearts or Inverness Caley Thistle.
The last time the Dons and the Bhoys met in the last four of a cup competition was in April 2011 in the Scottish Cup. Celtic ran out 4-0 winners at Hampden with a second-half blitz following Andy Considine’s early red card.
That meeting was just three months after they had beaten Craig Brown’s Aberdeen 4-1 in the last four of the League Cup.
On that occasion four first-half goals from the Glasgow side put a place in the final beyond the Reds despite Scott Vernon’s effort in the second period.
Milsom, who is now with English League Two side Notts County, joined Aberdeen on January 13 2011 from Fulham.
With the League Cup semi-final a fortnight away and the prospect of a Scottish Cup run also on the cards, Milsom wanted to come to Pittodrie to help deliver silverware for the Red Army.
It still lingers with the 32-year-old that the Dons were unable to reach a cup final during his time in the Granite City.
He said: “I joined in January 2011 and my reserve team coach at Fulham was Billy McKinlay (former Scotland international and Dundee United player).
“With his background he obviously knows a lot about Scottish football.
“I’d just come back after a year out, having injured my ACL and I needed to go to play somewhere.
“I had a couple of opportunities in England but Aberdeen seemed like the best fit for me.
“I spoke to Craig Brown and decided Aberdeen was where I wanted to go.
“I’d looked at the fixtures and saw we had a semi-final against Celtic in the League Cup and we had the chance to reach the Scottish Cup semi-final as well.
“We also had big league games coming up and as a player you want to get the opportunity to play in big games in front of big crowds.
“That was why Aberdeen was appealing. I knew Aberdeen was a big club in Scotland, but you don’t realise how big it is until you get there and find out the full history of the club.
“I had gone up to Aberdeen and it was my fourth game and it was at Hampden. Aberdeen took a huge number of fans, with Hampden pretty full.
“It was an exciting time to be playing and exciting to be involved in. I played in the two Celtic semi-finals and then we had Hibs (2-1 loss) in the Scottish Cup semi-final the following year but I was injured.
“I could have potentially been fit for the final which would have been brilliant, but it wasn’t to be.
“I do remember those times fondly going down to Hampden and being involved in big cup games.
“I was fortunate to be involved in the League One play-off final at Rotherham which was a good day out for the club and we took a lot of fans to Wembley.
“But those semi-finals were just the same with Aberdeen.
“It’s a brilliant day out for the fans but for me it was just disappointing we couldn’t give them that next step of making a final.”
In the League Cup semi- final nine years ago the Dons were stung by four goals in 35 minutes which put the tie beyond them.
Later that season in the Scottish Cup Aberdeen’s hopes were dented by Considine’s sending off and the Hoops took control in the second half.
Having been on the end of that mauling in the League Cup, Milsom hopes it is the Reds who come roaring out of the blocks on Sunday.
The former Rotherham and Crawley player added: “Celtic had a good team back then and they have a good team now.
“Against them, a good start can be important and in the League Cup game we didn’t get it.
“In the second game in the Scottish Cup I remember we started really well.
“Then Andy Considine got sent off and they came into the game and went on to beat us 4-0.
“Watching Aberdeen now, they are doing really well and I do think if the Dons can come out of the blocks quickly it could be difficult for Celtic to come back if Aberdeen get an early goal.
“When you play Celtic and Rangers they will usually dominate possession in the game.
“The majority of the time you can be sitting behind the ball and have to pick your moments to attack.
“If you can get an early goal or get the first goal it helps because the longer the game goes the more Celtic have to push and Aberdeen can counter-attack on them.
“If Aberdeen can defend well and get an early goal I think they have a huge chance of winning the game.”
Milsom left Aberdeen at the end of the 2012/13 season after having that campaign and the previous term blighted by knee injuries.
He still follows the Dons with interest and was delighted to watch as more than 40,000 members of the Red Army turned out at Parkhead in 2014 to see them win the League Cup. He hopes the Pittodrie faithful have another cup triumph to celebrate this term.
He said: “It’s brilliant to watch what Aberdeen have done in recent years.
“In the league they have always been up there finishing second or third under Derek McInnes, which is no mean feat, and trying to finish above Celtic is very tough because of the size of their budgets.
“They’ve reached finals and semi-finals regularly and the 2014 League Cup final when they won was something I really enjoyed watching.
“I still had so many friends who were playing in that game and it was great to see them win on penalties. I still watch the results come in, games on TV and semi-finals and finals.”