Graeme Shinnie isn’t going to lie. When Aberdeen came to a standstill to welcome home the League Cup winners of 2014, he was enormously jealous.
An Aberdonian as well as Aberdeen fan, he was playing for the beaten side the day the Pittodrie side overcame Inverness Caledonian Thistle to clinch the trophy on penalties. A week later came the “homecoming”.
Thousands packed the streets of Aberdeen, Shinnie’s streets. It was something he wanted for himself. It’s something he had always dreamt about.
It’s now something he hopes he can taste for himself in the very near future, with Aberdeen meeting Celtic in Sunday’s Betfred Cup final. The city’s fathers are already drawing up the parade route in preparation for the hoped-for victory.
Indeed, might this have something to do with the re-Tarmacing of the currently closed Pittodrie Street this week of all weeks?
“I obviously saw and heard about all the stuff on Union Street after Aberdeen beat Inverness and it made me a bit jealous,” recalled Shinnie. “I am not going to lie, I wanted that myself.”
He experienced it to an extent the following season. Just in a different city in the north of Scotland, and amid less fuss.
Still with Inverness, he starred in their victory over Falkirk to lift the Scottish Cup. Admirable achievement though it was, there was little of the hoopla that surrounded Aberdeen ending a 19-year trophy famine.
“It was a bit different at Inverness, we kind of just plod along up in Inverness,” said Shinnie.
“We went away a couple of days before and did our training there and focused on the game. It’s a good week, I enjoy all the hype of it. I enjoy looking forward to cup finals. Like I say you want to be in as many as you can.
“But on top of that you have to stay calm throughout and not get carried away.” Inverness certainly did that, recovering from going down to ten men to clinch the trophy with a late goal.
Asked if he enjoyed the occasion, the full-back replied: “It was good, up until the point Carl Tremarco got sent off and then it was a bit: ‘oh no!’ But up in Inverness we never seemed to do it easy, we always found a way to do it the hard way.
“There was no better feeling when James Vincent got on the end of Jamie MacDonald’s save and turned the ball home.
“It’s one of my greatest days in football winning that cup. It’s something I’ll always look back on.
“I had my daughter on the pitch, it’s something I’ll be able to tell her about when she’s older. It’s great for your family, great for the fans and great for everyone involved.”
Inverness’s homecoming wasn’t as well attended as Aberdeen’s, nor was it as high profile. But there was still a strong whiff of the previous night’s excesses emanating from the top deck of the open-topped bus. “It was good, I had to grind through it after the night before! It’s what you want,” said Shinnie.
“It would mean everything. I am a player who wants to win everything.
“I’d like to win everything every year, that’s what a player should want.
“I have won the Scottish Cup so I would love to add the League Cup to my collection. So it’s a game that means everything and one I am looking forward to.
“Obviously I was on the losing end that time and it is not a great feeling. So I would love to experience the big cup parade and everything that comes with it.”
But first comes the hard part; overcoming Celtic, the champions of Scotland and a team who’ve already beaten Aberdeen twice this season. Indeed, Brendan Rodgers’ side have still to taste defeat domestically this season.
“The games against Celtic I have played in have been frustrating on our part a wee bit,” noted Shinnie.
“I felt like we played pretty well down there and ended up being down 3-1 which was really frustrating. I think we deserved more out of the game than that.
“Up here we rode our luck at times, they had a few chances but we grew into the game again and piled the pressure on them as much as we could at the end. And we potentially could have nicked something.
“We definitely know there are gaps there to exploit and weaknesses we can exploit, it’s all about doing it on the day.”
There’s no inferiority complex, he stresses: “Not at all. We are in great form as well. There is more focus on us and what we are trying to do rather than looking elsewhere.”
There’s also a secret weapon to factor in. Shinnie’s lucky pair of boxer shorts. Red and white ones? No, pink and white apparently.
“It’s only recently it’s happened,” explained Shinnie. “Andy Considine and a few of the lads were having a go at the boxers I had on. They are white and pink and they seem to be doing well for me. Every time I wear them we seem to win. They have turned into my lucky boxers so I will need to wear them on Sunday.”