Russell Anderson may be hanging up his boots in a fortnight’s time but the Aberdeen captain is determined his new role at the club will lead to a lasting legacy on the park.
The central defender will make an emotional farewell appearance against St Johnstone at Pittodrie on the last day of the season, fully 18 years after his top team debut for the Dons.
It is far from the end of the story though as Anderson will move into a newly-created business development role that will include work for the AFC Community Trust.
However, the main focus will be on persuading corporate clients to come up with the funding for a new training complex that Willie Miller has been calling for as far back as the days when Sir Alex Ferguson held sessions on the beach.
Anderson knows from his time with Sunderland and Derby County just what a difference the proper facilities can make to any club and feels it’s more important than ever they are delivered.
He has seen Celtic, Rangers, Hibs and Hearts benefit from having exactly that and is determined to play a key part in delivering something similar to help manager Derek McInnes continue the impressive progress achieved in the last two years.
I was driven as a player and I will be the same in my new roleRussell Anderson
“It is essential, especially when you are trying to attract players,” he said. “We have a team at the moment, along with a manager, who can attract players and, if you could add training facilities to that, then that is just as important.
“We are grateful to the people who give us training facilities just now but we spend almost as much time on a bus going to and from training as we do training. It is not ideal but we have made the most of it.
“It clearly hasn’t affected our performances on the park but it is certainly something the club the size of Aberdeen, and where we want to go in the future, desperately needs.”
Anderson starts that new job on the first of June and it’s a role he prepared for years ago by studying for qualifications as a financial advisor in preference to coaching badges, the usual route for footballers coming to the end of their career.
The former Scotland international who played for, among others, Jimmy Calderwood, Roy Keane, Walter Smith and Craig Brown admits he never really wanted to join their ranks.
“I think until you sit in the manager’s seat and have the pressure on you, then I don’t know if you would fully know what it is like, but it is not a big enough part of me that makes me want to go and do it. This new role is more suited to me.”
“I was driven as a player and I will be the same in my new role. It is not down to a lack of drive but I would rather do something different. My gut feeling is that I haven’t been 100 per cent into management and, if you are not 100 per cent, then I don’t think I could do it.”
There was never any doubt that Anderson gave anything less than 100 per cent on the pitch and off it, too, when it came to fighting back from several serious long-term injuries.
Those drastically curtailed the impact he was able to make after a £1 million move to Sunderland and subsequently at Derby County, as well as limiting chances to add to 11 caps for Scotland.
The latest injury came at Perth last August which meant missing out on the Dons’ best league campaign for 21 years, but Anderson’s place in Aberdeen’s history was assured in March last year when he skippered them to a first trophy since 1995.
Victory over Inverness in the League Cup final was all the sweeter in the circumstances as Anderson admits: “I actually thought that chance had passed me by. I didn’t think I’d get another one. When I came back to the club it was to try to get fit from an injury I’d had. Fast forward two and a half years. To lead the team out at Parkhead and win the League Cup was the furthest thing from my mind when I first came back. It was something special.
“That was a highlight for me, but there have been an awful lot of highs, probably matched with as many lows, to be honest. But, overall, I wouldn’t change anything. I have no regrets.
“The injuries were frustrating, but I’ve seen players whose careers were cut short by injury and they haven’t managed to make that decision themselves.
“I would like to be remembered as someone who was committed to the club, who always gave his all, didn’t always play well but tried his best. That’s good enough for me.”