January signing Ronald Hernandez has thanked his Aberdeen team-mates for helping him through the isolation of lockdown without his family.
The Venezuelan international right-back moved to Pittodrie from Norwegian side Stabaek for a significant six-figure sum on transfer deadline day.
Hernandez’s wife Krisvany and daughter Adeline were set to join him in the Granite City but were left stranded in Venezuela when the country went into lockdown with travel restricted due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Hernandez spent the four months of lockdown on his own and is hopeful he can be reunited with his wife and daughter soon when Venezuela eases international restrictions.
Hernandez said: “I was on my own in Aberdeen the whole time.
“It was really hard for me.
“At that point, my family were supposed to come here to join me but unfortunately this happened and everything slowed down.
“There was no way to get them here. I’ve spent the lockdown on my own.
“Of course, I hope they can get here soon.
“We are waiting for the rulers of Venezuela to say when they will re-open the international flights to get them here.”
For the first three months of lockdown Aberdeen players had to train alone due to social distancing restrictions.
They were finally given the go-ahead to return to socially- distanced training in mid-June and are now in full contact training.
Hernandez said: “Funso (Ojo) was the closest team-mate to me because we live a five-minute walk away from each other.
“It is good to have him in the locker room because he can teach us a lot through his experiences.
“I am still young and need to learn some stuff. He is a very nice guy, everyone can see that.
“I kept in touch with the other guys as well, which was good for me as it helped me settle into the team faster.”
The Red Army and Aberdeen’s Venezuelan community have also helped Hernandez during lockdown in the Granite City.
He said: “Many fans have been really great with me.
“There is a small Venezuelan community in Aberdeen, which is good for me.
“It is a small city and I like it.
“There are small towns in Aberdeenshire, which are quiet, and I like them.
“I try to keep my mind peaceful because sometimes it gets tough as I miss my family a lot.
“We have Venezuelan food in Aberdeen. There is a local restaurant on Union Street, Latin Way, and there is Cognito on the Corner. Some of the cooks there are from Venezuela.
“Sometimes they bring me food to my home which has been great for me. To have my own food is nice.”
When arriving on transfer deadline day Hernandez had not played competitive football for two months as the Norwegian season ended on December 1.
He made just one start and one appearance off the bench before football in Scotland was shut down on March 13.
Hernandez featured as a substitute in the 3-1 home defeat of Hibs on March 7, the last match before football ended.
He wants to make an immediate impact in the new campaign and said: “I am very excited for the new season. This is a big opportunity for me and a big challenge.
“I want to take advantage when I get the opportunity on the pitch and do my best for the club and the fans.”
Capped 15 times by his country, Hernandez starred in the Copa America last summer and started the 2-0 quarter-final loss to Argentina.
He said: “Scottish football is interesting. I like it. My agent said the Scottish league is like a small Premier League. I’ve seen that is true with the intensity and going up and down the pitch all game. It is very good for the fans.
“Pre-season has been going well. I feel we have more connection with the centre-back and right wing-back because the more connections you have with your team-mates, the more you will give in the game.”