Having quit the game last summer to concentrate on his media career, the 35-year-old Australian managed to sate his football craving by joining some other notable ex-pros such as Ally McCoist, Alex Rae, Mark Wilson and Frank McAvennie who play every week at Rouken Glen’s football centre in the Giffnock area.
However, he was lured out of retirement by former Celtic team-mate Gary Caldwell to try to rescue Partick Thistle’s season in the Championship.
Now McDonald is dreaming of reaching only the second Scottish Cup semi-final of his career when Thistle meet Hearts at Firhill tomorrow night. He said: “A few weeks ago I was playing at Rouken Glen. It’s unreal how quickly it has come about.
“If you had told me a couple of weeks ago that I’d have a chance to play at Hampden, I’d have said no chance.
“It’s there for us to go and grab and look forward to.”
McDonald, pictured right, made a dream start at Thistle with a debut winner against Alloa on 16 February but Partick have lost their last two matches to go back to the bottom of the table. A live TV cup quarter-final is just the tonic they need and McDonald knows all of the pressure is on Craig Levein’s side.
He said: “It’s probably a nice time to move away from that and into the cup.
“We are at home in the quarter-final and there is everything to play for.
“Hearts are a very good side, very physical as we saw against Celtic in midweek and it’s a huge game for both teams.
“It’s the biggest game of the season for them. I think Craig Levein will look at this as a real chance to get to a final and do something worthwhile.
“Look, we can enjoy this tie. That’s the key. The players can go out and express themselves, especially at home.”
McDonald was last at Hampden in Celtic’s disastrous semi-final defeat by Ross County in 2010.
“I’ve never done well in this tournament,” said McDonald. “It’s one that has always eluded me.
“This is a real bonus but it would be nice if we could do something special.”