Defender Scott McKenna admits he worked for an entire year to secure a dream move to England – only for it to turn into a nightmare summer.
After the Dons rejected a £7 million bid from Aston Villa in summer 2018 the Scotland cap bust a gut for his club in the hope of a lucrative transfer.
However, that dream turned sour in the summer transfer window when Aberdeen rejected bids from Sheffield Wednesday, Nottingham Forest and QPR.
Fearing his chance of a move was slipping away, the 23-year-old agonised over his future before handing in a transfer request to the club he admits have been “absolutely brilliant” to him.
McKenna confirmed that official request is no longer active but refused to rule out a potential transfer in January.
For now he will continue to focus on Aberdeen and Scotland duty and see what the January transfer window brings – which inevitably will be more interest.
McKenna is back in the Scotland set-up, having missed the previous two squads with a hamstring tear.
Asked if the transfer request still stands, he said: “No. That was something that was in a few months ago, but as soon as the window closed, my attention was back on Aberdeen.
“I just need to keep my head down and see what happens come January.”
McKenna’s bombshell request came on the eve of the Europa League third qualifying round first leg clash against Rijeka.
The English transfer window shut on the same day as the tie, just hours before kick-off in Croatia.
McKenna was frustrated with the inertia over his future after bids were rejected and felt his big chance was slipping away.
He made a decision, one he knew would not be popular with Aberdeen fans – but he had made up his mind.
He said: “It was a very hard decision.
“Aberdeen gave me my chance and have been absolutely brilliant with me.
“But I had been building up for that for a year in the hope of a move and it just didn’t seem to be happening.”
Now with the Scotland squad ahead of their Euro 2020 qualifiers against Cyprus and Kazakhstan, the defender admits the uncertainty over his future, and his transfer request, were tough to balance.
He said: “The summer was probably the worst for me. There was maybe a bit of expectancy for it to happen whereas before it just kind of happened.
“Whatever the decision was, you just put your head down and get on with it.
“When you have been working for the full year, building up to that point that you thought was going to be this time, there was that wee bit of disappointment.
“But it can’t linger for too long.
“The window closed. We were in Croatia and we had a game an hour or two later.
“There was no time for me to dwell on things.
“As frustrating as it can be, there is absolutely nothing I can do about it, apart from trying to play well.”
Although McKenna , contracted to Aberdeen until 2023, admits to frustration his move to England did not materialise, that should not be misconstrued as lack of commitment to Aberdeen.
He quickly moved on and is focused on being a success at Pittodrie for as long as he is there.
He realises continuing to produce on the pitch is paramount to any interest – and subsequent move.
He said: “As soon as every window closes, the next six months is always big.
“The closer you get to the window, all you hear is people saying ‘you need to play well the next five or six games – your future could depend on it’. You become used to it.
“I’ve heard it so many times now. I just want to do as well as I can in every single game I play, whether that’s for Scotland or Aberdeen.”
McKenna is proof that an inevitable byproduct of impressing at domestic level is interest from other clubs.
That is also now the case with Aberdeen midfielder Lewis Ferguson, who is reportedly a January transfer target for Rangers.
Although the 20-year-old is contracted to the Dons until summer 2024, having penned a new deal earlier this year, Ibrox sporting director Ross Wilson has reportedly identified Ferguson as a future target.
McKenna is confident the Reds will fight to retain the Scotland Under-21 international but said: “I’m actually surprised there has not been more interest.
“With his family background at Rangers, it is probably something you would expect.
“But I’m sure Aberdeen will be desperate to try to hold on to him.
“It’s something he will need to get used to, having his name in the paper and being linked with other clubs.”