Ryan Jack admits an appearance in next month’s Scottish Cup final could be also be his last as an Aberdeen player but, wherever his future lies, the midfielder is determined to win the trophy and take his place alongside the club’s all-time great captains.
He wasn’t even born when Alex McLeish was the last of those to lift the Scottish Cup back in 1990 but someone who joined his local team as a seven-year-old is obviously well aware of their history and the significance of taking his place in it.
Jack already has a winners medal in his possession from the day Russell Anderson skippered them to League Cup success against Inverness Caley Thistle but adding another by the end of May would bring the additional bonus of personal kudos. Stewart McKimmie is the only other Aberdeen captain to guide the side to silverware in the last 27 years and this might well be Jack’s last chance to join the list as his contract is up in the summer and a recent link with Rangers hints that he will be in demand elsewhere.
If uncertainty over his future is causing him concern then the current Dons skipper is disguising it well as he claims the only thing on his mind is beating Hibernian en route to winning the Scottish Cup and taking his place amongst the Pittodrie greats.
“Growing up through the ranks at Aberdeen, you see clips of guys like Willie Miller and Alex McLeish,” he said. “Obviously, I was lucky enough to play with Russell. They were legends at the club.
“When you get the captaincy of a club like Aberdeen, that’s what you envision. You want to be remembered for lifting a trophy. So hopefully we can do all that we can to try and get this cup.
“It’s a goal, an aim for myself. When I got the captaincy, I said that being captain or not I wanted to try and win more trophies for the club.
“I’ve not really thought about it maybe being my last game. I’ve just thought that I wanted to win a trophy this season. At the start of the season, we wanted to come second in the league and win a trophy.”
Jack insists the recent speculation linking him with a move to Rangers was just that and there has been no final decision as to his future at Pittodrie. Perhaps Aberdeen’s best chance of that is the fact that Hibs midfielder Fraser Fyvie remains one of Jack’s best friends and they are bound to have discussed how things didn’t go smoothly when he left the Dons for Wigan.
Today’s on field reunion adds another interesting dimension to an already intriguing tie as, just like the Shinnie brothers, the pair who joined Aberdeen as youngsters have never faced each other in a competitive game.
“I spoke to Fraser on Wednesday. We had a wee chat on the phone and both our families are quite close,” Jack added. “Not too much about the game though. I’m sure he doesn’t want to give me too much info and I’m the same. I’ve never played against Fraser so this is the first time at any level we’ll have played against each other, apart from in training. It will certainly be different but we’re both professionals and we both want our clubs to get to the cup final.”
In addition to victory over Hibs and a place in the final, what Jack really hopes is that today’s semi-final is remembered for the quality of the football and not for the sort of controversial incident he was involved in during the recent 3-0 defeat at home by Rangers.
During the game Jack was involved in a confrontation with Joe Garner that resulted in the Rangers player dropping melodramatically to the deck as though he had been headbutted by the Aberdeen captain.
Referee Kevin Clancy booked the pair and, with the teams meeting again in the league and possibly in the Scottish Cup final, Jack is happy to move on, but only because of the way the official handled things.
“It wasn’t the greatest situation,” remembers Jack. “I went in for a tackle, the whistle had gone. There was a reaction and it happened. There was nothing in it. We shook hands after the game and it is all part of the game. If the ref hadn’t seen it that way and sent me off I would have been gutted.”
Aberdeen’s chances of today’s game going their way will be enhanced by the fact that Niall McGinn is fit to play after missing last weekend’s win at Perth with a groin strain.