Anthony Stewart lifts lid on 'no choice' Aberdeen exit, says he wasn't fit for manager and opens up on future

Aberdeen defender Anthony Stewart revealed he had “no choice” to leave the club in January for a loan move to MK Dons despite having little desire to exit.

The 30-year-old was one of the summer signings by former boss Jim Goodwin as he rebuilt the squad following a tenth-place finish in the 2021/22 campaign. Arriving from Wycombe Wanderers for whom he made nearly 300 appearances, the centre-back was soon installed as the club’s captain. Stewart, however, had difficult moments, being sent off twice, while his final appearance was the 6-0 loss to Hibs which spelled the end of Goodwin’s time as manager. Following the manager change, with Barry Robson taking interim charge, there were two centre-back additions and Stewart was allowed to depart for League One side MK Dons.

"It has been a strange time, but that's football – you never know what's around the corner," Stewart said. "I wouldn't say things weren't going right there but we were having a tough time. I didn't have any thoughts about moving away, I was focused on the task ahead of me but on deadline day I was told I had to leave really, I had no choice. MK had shown interest in me all month, which is lovely of them, so I made the move. It's a game of opinions, and I wasn't fit for the manager who was appointed at the time, so I had to move on and do what I had to do for myself."

The future

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Stewart signed a two-year-deal with Aberdeen in the summer but has not thought about his plans ahead of the end of the season with the focus on helping MK Dons survive relegation. He made his first appearance for the club at the weekend in the 2-2 draw with former side Wycombe. "At the moment, it's just a six-month loan and my focus is to help MK Dons survive, not get relegated,” he said. “I've not got any other aims, I'm not looking too far ahead because I don't know what the future holds. I'm just glad to be back playing and to help the team as much as I can."

Stewart admitted the lure of possible European football attracted him to Aberdeen as he confirmed his pride of being the club's captain. "I didn't know much of Aberdeen as a club, other than Sir Alex Ferguson's time, but I wanted to play in Europe – you don't get that opportunity unless you're in the Premier League. So it was a big lure for me. So for me, if I could get there and play in the Europa League, it would be amazing.

"I got pulled by the gaffer, and he told me he wanted me to be the skipper, and asked what I thought. I had to think about it, but I'd never been a club captain, so I knew I had to rise to the opportunity. I know it comes with highs and lows, and to be fair, it ended on a low, but I'm proud to have been up there and been captain."

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