In deciding to say his farewells to Aberdeen, Daniel Harvie knows he may have to take a step back. But the hope is that it will afford him the platform to take two steps forward.
A brave decision to cut himself loose from the relative financial security and the associated kudos of being at a club that has finished second in the Premiership for as long as he has been a senior player, the 19-year-old defender says that the time is right to challenge himself elsewhere if he wants to chase his dreams.
Harvie is a member of the Scotland Under-21 squad that will contest the prestigious Toulon tournament this week. They begin their campaign this evening against Togo in the Stade de Lattre in Aubagne, before facing France on Wednesday and South Korea on Saturday, and hope they can extend their involvement and progress to the next phase.
Honoured to be given the opportunity to represent his country, and happy to postpone a planned holiday to Thailand to be part of Scot Gemmill’s squad, the full-back is also hoping to use the coming week as a shop window.
“My contract was up this year and the manager [Derek McInnes] offered me a new one and asked me what I wanted to do. I told him I needed to play regular football, every week. I can’t lose any more time sitting on the bench and playing in a couple of games a season. I need to be playing every week, especially at this age. If I’m looking to go forward with the Scotland Under-21s, I need to be playing and impressing.
“I wasn’t getting that opportunity at Aberdeen and we agreed that I needed to go and play somewhere.”
Harvie made his breakthrough with the Pittodrie side in March 2016, with an injury-time appearance against Partick Thistle but, following a successful season on loan at Dumbarton in 2016/17, which earned him the club’s Young Player of the Year award, he spent the past term kicking his heels back in the north-east, managing just 16 minutes of first team action despite several appearances on the bench.
“I’d say it’s been a frustrating season for me. After being on loan the previous campaign and playing all those games, to come back and be on the bench so much and then suffer an injury, it didn’t work out in my favour or the way I would have planned it. But that’s football, nothing is ever straightforward. I’m looking forward to next season.
“I could have stayed there, been comfortable for another year and sat on the bench and just bided my time, but I’m looking forward to the challenge because that is what football is all about and I’m looking forward to seeing what else is out there.
“There are a few clubs I spoke to but I had a chat with my agent and we decided I would come over here [to France] without agreeing anything and see what happens. If we have a good tournament and maybe I have a few good games, that will maybe open the door a bit more and get my name out there. That’s the plan.
“People take notice of these tournaments, there are a lot of scouts, a lot of people searching for the next big thing. But it’s also about enjoying yourself and not put too much pressure on my back. We can just see what happens after that.”
The level of interest is currently lower Premiership and into the Championship. It’s a step down from the heights occupied by Aberdeen in recent seasons but Harvie sees it as a strategic move rather than a lowering of his ambitions.
“Hopefully it’s a step back to take two forward. It’s a tough decision to leave a great club with great people, like Aberdeen, but I need to play. I was worried about it when I first made the decision, thinking ‘what if it doesn’t go to plan’, but I’m happy now and know there are more clubs out there for me.”