Andrew Considine aims for Don of a new era

Andrew Considine is hoping Aberdeens away form in Europe can carry them forward to the group stages. Photograph: SNS
Andrew Considine is hoping Aberdeens away form in Europe can carry them forward to the group stages. Photograph: SNS
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Andrew Considine has waited eight long years for the opportunity of another crack at some of European football’s more glamorous clubs and is not about to let NK Maribor get in the way of that ambition now.

The versatile defender is the sole survivor from the Aberdeen squad Jimmy Calderwood assembled and steered to the last 32 of what was still known as the UEFA Cup back in 2008.

That run brought memorable group games against the likes of Panathanaikos, Lokomotiv Moscow and Atletico Madrid before they eventually lost in the knockout stage to Bayern Munich, despite a spirited 2-2 draw in the first leg at Pittodrie.

Those are exactly the sort of occasions Considine is determined to relive with the squad current manager Derek McInnes has put together, one the player credits with being every bit as good as those he enjoyed success with in the past.

Now the immediate aim is to see off the challenge of NK Maribor in Slovenia this midweek after an impressive first-leg performance that certainly merited more than the 1-1 draw they had to settle for after a pulsating 90 minutes.

Of course, eight years ago Aberdeen only needed to get through one qualifying round to make the group stage, in stark contrast to the marathon campaign required to progress that far nowadays.

However, Considine is confident they have the ability to get through this tie and past whoever they subsequently face so he can then look forward to rolling back the years.

“I was lucky enough to get a taste of the group stages nine years ago when we packed out Pittodrie for some really big occasions,” said the 29-year-old, who made his Dons debut under Steve Paterson in 2004.

“There were some cracking games against some cracking teams so it would be fantastic to bring that back here again.

“The atmosphere against Maribor reminded me a lot of those big nights and hopefully we can finish the job to make sure there are more to come. I certainly think the squad we have at the club now is every bit as good as the one that eventually went through to play Bayern Munich back then.

“You just have to see the quality of the players on the bench to realise that, as the likes of Kenny McLean didn’t start and he’s a Scotland international now.

“You need that competition for places if you are going to progress at this level and the manager has definitely got that now.

“The bonus back then was that there was only one qualifying round to get through, while it takes a lot of football to make that stage now. It is a tough ask to get through what is eight ties in all to get to the group stages now but we have the boys here who can do that.”

Aberdeen may have needed a late Jonny Hayes goal to salvage that first-leg draw but they created more than enough chances to suggest they can score the number needed to progress in the return.

There is also room for optimism when you consider two of the Dons’ best performances over the past three years in the competition have come on the road, in Holland and Croatia.

They defeated Groningen 2-1 after a goalless first leg at Pittodrie and, a year ago, Considine himself scored the opener in a stunning 3-0 win away to Rijeka and knows they are capable of a repeat against Maribor. “The way we handled ourselves winning those away games against Rijeka and Groningen in the past means we have a huge chance to progress in this tie,” he said.

“It will certainly need the same sort of performance we gave winning in Croatia last season because it will be a hostile environment so we need to focus, especially at the back.

“Maribor are a cracking team but, with the wide men we have got, we can cause them serious problems and we have lethal finishers who can exploit that.

“If we can keep up the sort of performance we gave in the first leg when we go over there then we can go over to Slovenia with confidence.”